Giving It All Away

In sport there games that you win, games that you lose, and games that you give away. Wales gave away today’s game against England.

The game turned on an incident about 5 minutes before half time when Alun Wyn Jones was sin-binned for tripping Dylan Hartley. It was a stupid offense, committed right in front of the referee. While Wyn Jones was cooling his heels in the bin, England scored 17 unanswered points. In addition to that, Tom James messed up a golden opportunity for a try, and Stephen Jones and James Hook missed three penalty attempts between then. That’s a total of 33 points given away, in a game that we lost 30-17.

England will be reasonably pleased to have taken their chances when they came, even though all three of their tries were given to them in one way or another: two when Wales were a man down, and the third from an interception. They should be less pleased with how long it took them to score the first try. Their forwards clearly don’t trust their backs with the ball. Possibly the best news for them is that Wilkinson is still at his metronomic best with the boot.

As I feared, Gareth Cooper had a poor game at scrum half, squandering two good scoring opportunities with ill-advised chip kicks and generally giving poor service to the back line. Gareth Williams had a nightmare throwing into the lineout. Both men were replaced in the second half, after which the Welsh team appeared to function more smoothly.

That’s by no means the end of the road for Wales. They have three home games to come, and played well enough against England that I expect them to beat Italy and Scotland. The home game against France, and the away game against Ireland, will be much more of a challenge.

Speaking of the Irish, they opened their campaign against an Italian side lacking their inspirational captain, Sergio Parisse, and as toothless as I have ever seen them. Italy appeared to require a committee meeting each time before releasing the ball from the ruck. If this year’s Ferrari is as slow, Lewis and Jenson will be laughing. Ireland, however, only managed a 29-11 win and will not be happy with their lack of incisiveness.

3 thoughts on “Giving It All Away

  1. Five tries was more than I expected the game to have, but they were, as you say, all made by Wales, which doesn’t bode too well for England if they have to play against 15 men for a whole game, or a team not trying to play catch-up in the final ten minutes (though, to be fair, England did rumble over the line a few times but were held up).

    I certainly think both teams will have to improve – the error count was frighteningly high (though both kept discipline pretty well, Wyn Jones’ stupidity apart).

    Would be nice if the BBC remembered that not every ex-pat is English – tomorrow, much as I’d love to see Scotland-France, there are apparently important reruns of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that need to be shown from 8am…

  2. It wasn’t pretty game to watch either in the flesh or on the replay which I caught up with last night.

    Wales made almost as many errors as England, and I am not sure that I’d liked to have been in Wyn-Jones’s shoes when he got his dressing down from Sean Edwards!

    Wales did look more likely to score from open play – though it is bit harsh to say that all 5 tries were made by Wales – you still have to take the chances when they come and England haven’t been capable of doing even that recently. No one has mentioned it but the Welsh second try was against 14 men as Moody was down field receiving treatment.

    However England totally dismantled the Welsh lineout and the scrum thanks to Mr Rolland was a complete lottery – though i think Wales had the edge there.

    I got a bit fed up with the shout “Red hands Away” at EVERY single ruck.

    I was annoyed at Rolland’s penalty against Borthwick for diving over the ruck – when I could see from a couple of hundred metres away that the scrum half had already picked the ball up so the ruck was over.

    Watching it live [through one eye, naturally] i thought Ryan Jones was lucky to not get carded in the first 15 mins as he went through late on Wilkinson twice and on the second occasion raised is boot to block him – cheap shots. Moody had a couple of similar incidents though on the the one on S Jones at least he attempted to pull away rather than stick his leg out.

    England weren’t very good – indicated by the fact that for the first two phases of the rumbling that preceded their first try there was a four or five man overlap and Cueto was screaming for the ball.

    On to the Stadio Flaminio – presumably with Flutey back and a little more polish in distribution – and hopefully a reduction in the palpable anxiety in England’s play.

    1. The cheap shots at players who have just kicked a ball annoy me too. It is one of those things that the NFL gets right because it has so many officials on the field. I’d like to say that we should put the onus on the charging player to pull out, but that would just encourage diving (and yes, I have seen people take dives).

      Good point about Moody being injured, I’d missed that.

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