Mission Accomplished

For 60 minutes at Murrayfield Wales were totally dominant and playing some of the best rugby I have seen from them in ages. The fact that the scoreline was only 13-26 is due partly to some woeful place kicking from the Welsh, and partly due to wholesale substitutions on 60 minutes that caused the team to take their eye off the ball rather, and let the Scots back into the game. It could easily have been a massacre. More analysis follows..

There was plenty to applaud in the Welsh performance. Jamie Roberts was awesome going forward. His runs reminded me of the way that Jonah Lomu would just charge through the opposition carrying two or three tacklers along with him. Matthew Rees put in an incredible amount of work because he always seemed to be there at the breakdown. Lee Byrne took some magnificent running lines, and Halfpenny showed that he’s become just as lethal a finisher as Shane Williams. The loss of Ryan Jones to an injury just before the game didn’t seem to upset the team at all, and the speed of recycling from the ruck was a joy to behold. The scum completely destroyed the Scots on several occasions.

On the downside, the place kicking was awful. The lineout still needs a bit of work. And we can’t afford to lose focus late on like that against Ireland or France. But for a first game, against a fairly dangerous opponent, we made a very encouraging start.

As for the Scots, I thought there was quite a bit to be encouraged about. Their scrum will be better when they get the injured players back. Their offloading was often very good. And in Max Evans they seem to have discovered a player of real class. If, as the commentators have been suggesting, his brother Tom is just as good, the Scots could have a very dangerous back line in the making.

One thing the Scots do need to learn is not to lead with their heads when making a tackle. Not only is it dangerous, it is also illegal. In the first half they lost two players to injury from reckless tackling (with one of them getting a yellow card as well for dangerous play). Oddly enough, both Welsh players involved bounced up without a care in the world. Those boys are hard.

Finally one further word on the question of hands in the ruck. There were two very clear occasions where Alain Roland shouted “hands off blue” and the Scots did not respond, resulting in penalties for Wales. In contrast the Welsh team generally kept an ear open for the referee’s instructions and thereby avoided getting pinged, though they did get penalized for going off their feet a few times.

2 thoughts on “Mission Accomplished

  1. Good performance by Wales – with the now usual flashes of brilliance.

    I agree there was some very streetwise play by the men in red – which is easier when you have players of the calibre of Martyn Williams on the pitch. 🙂

    (oh for Haskell to have a tenth of his rugby brain.)

    one thing I did notice in the first half, which didn’t get picked up in the commentary box was Byrne taking people out off the ball –

    i don’t mean legitimately clearing rucks but actually in broken play when Scotland were attacking and the line had been broken,

    Byrne rushed up and nailed potential Scottish supporting players helping to snuff out the attack…

    I saw it twice in the space of about five minutes, wondering if you’d seen the same thing Cheryl?

    gives a new meaning to the term rush defence… ;)*

    *BTW this is only jealousy as we having got a defence organised enough to think of doing this.

    I think if England can keep the score differential down to 20 or less we’ll have had a good day at the office.

  2. There’s a lot of quasi-legal blocking that goes on these days. The whole decoy runners thing is very suspicious. A couple of times I saw a hole phalanx of Welsh players (probably forwards) rush forward at once while Philips sent a long pass behind them to the back line. I’m sure we are not the only team that does it, but we might be the best at it.

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