An interesting game at Twickenham yesterday. Also a quick apology for my raft of Tweets during the game. I was watching the game on my own and needed someone to talk to!
If I was Martin Johnson (The England Manager) I’d be taking that game as a positive (even though the score was England 16 New Zealand 26).
England played with pace, no little invention and a willingness to attack. Also they were still going hammer and tong at the end so that speaks volumes for their fitness which I felt was questionable last season.
I still have severe doubts about their core skills and decision making though. I counted 3 maybe 4 try scoring opportunities going begging because of an inability to accomplish a basic push pass or a failure to see obvious overlaps, these are basic things that I coach my players on ad nauseum. At test match level you get very few chances and you have to take them.
I’ve always said, that the same basic errors happen at every level of the game, they just happen faster that’s all.
I’d also question Mike Ford’s defence plan. Why would you operate a plan that invites the world’s best team at attacking wide to go around you? England were defending that narrowly that there were at times no English defender in front of the New Zealand backs? A mystery.
That all seems pretty negative, but as a coach you have to look for things to put right while putting a positive spin on things. I’m not the England Coach so I don’t have to spin the game positively. But despite what I’ve just said above I’m pretty happy.
I wanted to see progression, I wanted to see our young lads tested against the world’s number 1 side and I wanted them to show some devil, they did all of that and a bit more.
Players who shone for me were Nick Easter who’s play around the loose and his ball carrying into heavy traffic were outstanding, young Leicester Tiger prop forward Dan Cole absolutely mullared his opposite number scrum time and young Ben Foden put in some terrific counter attacks from Full Back.
The Sky Sports panel made the New Zealand Outside half Dan Carter man of the match, fair enough he did have a very influential game, but the New Zealand Captain and openside flanker Richie Macaw was my man of the match, his work at the tackle and breakdown was bordering on suicidal, indeed him and his English opposite number and England Captain Lewis Moody both came off the park at the end looking like they’d both gone 15 rounds with Joe Frazier in his prime. It was brutal. Macaw is the world’s best cheat, and anyone who knows rugby will know that that is the highest compliment I can pay him. His hands and body were all over the English ball at the tackle and how he gets away with what he does right in front of the referee is testament to his outstanding skill and strength in that most important of areas. He is without doubt the worlds best player by some miles.
A very entertaining game and I am now starting to have some small amount of hope for the impending 6 Nations tournament early next year.
But first there is the no small matter of Australians next Saturday…