An amazing match, a deserved victor and a team on the verge of the WORST ever performance from a hosting nation at a Rugby World Cup. Twickenham Saturday 26th September a match nearly three years in the making and it did not disappoint – PHYSICAL, ATTRITIONAL DRAMATIC!!!!!!! – a game of epic proportions. England in control, Wales despite what seemed like injury after injury AFTER INJURY kept themselves in the game and ultimately won through heart, guts, determination and most importantly brilliant game management . Possibly the most eagerly anticipated England Wales game in history and the Welsh came to London and deservedly took down the English.
The Welsh Dragon Fires
Lets start with the victors – Wales a team that I personally can only give massive credit to for a more than deserved victory. They were 10 points down at three stages in the game (16-6 in first half and 19-9 and 22-12 in the second half) but still kept on coming despite the injuries. Yes England to a degree allowed them back into the game but the Welsh took their opportunity and the key try of Gareth Davies was outstanding and showed that despite having their backs to the wall they can push and make devastating breaks that in the end gave them the impetous to ultimately win the match against their fiercest rivals, oh to be in Wales after this result. The leadership of the team from head coach, Warren Gatland to captain Sam Warburton and his on field generals of Alan Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Jamie Roberts and Dan Biggar was outstanding. A more sweeter result there couldn’t be (unless they win the whole darn thing of course). On that subject Wales need to push on now beat Fiji and then Australia come a calling, but by then they may already be qualified for the knockout phase. Ultimately I do not think Wales will win the World Cup mainly because of injuries – against the best of the best you cannot keep playing with a number of second string players, though their heart guts and determination can most definitely give them a chance to go deep.
ON THE BRINK OF ELIMINATION
So what now for England – well heres a thought – THE WORST POSSIBLE CASE SCENARIO of not even making it out of the Pool phase in their ahem OWN World Cup. A shambolic embarrassment if there ever was one. Head coach, Stuart Lancaster was criticised for his intial team selection, but England actually had control of the match whilst that side was on the pitch, it was when the changes were made it all went pear shaped and Wales deservedly took the ascendancy and won the game. Lack of discipline has always been a problem for this Red Rose side and silly penalties, poor decision making and lets be honest a complete lack of leadership from captain Chris Robshaw (especially at the end) contributed to this defeat. England under Lancaster have been striving to be the world’s best, but if New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, even Ireland and France were in the position the hosts were in with less than 15 minutes to go (7 points up) – they would not have lost the game the way the English did. The problem Lancaster has is he has never won a crucial match he needed to which makes it ludicrous that he was given a new long term contract last year something I have previously blogged on –
Time to stand up and be counted – WHEN IT MATTERS
England really don’t have any excuses as the whole tournament has been geared up for them. Their fixture schedule has been devised so they get maximum rest between matches, if you compare it to the other teams – especially the timing of their last game (though that might not mean much now – see last sentence) – so everything and I mean everything has been geared to help them get through a tough group. So now it comes down to another Australia clash of the year – but this time all the pressure is on just the one team. The cricketers won the Ashes, the Great Britain Davis Cup Team won their semi-final match up, now the England Rugby Team have to step up to the plate or the likelihood is they are GONE and they become a laughing stock of World Rugby – the “no one likes us we don’t care” mantra means little if you are not winning. Australia will be licking their lips, a chance to knock out the hosts on their home territory and despite losing on their last two visits to Twickenham (England have actually won four of their last five matches) they will go there as favourites especially after their second strings impressive 65-3 performance against Uruguay. Personally I fear for England – they will need the match of their lives and major lessons will need to learnt from the defeat to Wales. As previously mentioned maybes just maybes Lancaster can win that crucial game that matters and it could springboard them to a deep run in the competition. Unfortunately though the nightmare scenario looms of England having to play Uruguay in their last match as a potential dead rubber already being OUT of THEIR tournament #dampsquibtime.
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