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Five things England got wrong against Wales | Paul Rees

August 15th, 2011 by · No Comments · Features

England lacked clarity and struggled to react to what was going on in front of them during their defeat against Wales

1 Tactics England had a vision but no clarity. They looked to build on the physical dominance they had established against Wales at Twickenham but became obsessed with brawn and kept running straight lines, waiting for a missed tackle that never came. Their failure to create holes left them in a hole.

2 Programmed There was a snapshot, as England were chasing the game in the final quarter, of forwards moving across field to their next position, as the pod system demanded, while in front of them an undermanned breakdown saw Sam Warburton force yet another turnover. England played as they had trained, not reacting to what was in front of them. They were too often outnumbered after a tackle.

3 Points not taken England spurned seven chances to kick penalties, one after Mike Phillips had been sent to the sin-bin nine minutes from the end, with Wales nine points ahead. They opted for four line-outs and three scrums. The tactic almost worked the first time, when Matt Banahan lost the ball on the line. Otherwise mistakes from Shontayne Hape, Dan Cole and Courtney Lawes, twice, cost them.

4 Wide boys England achieved width last season, despite their midfield. Toby Flood put Chris Ashton, Mark Cueto and Ben Foden into space, leaving his centres largely to clear out rucks or take up slow ball.Foden was a virtual spectator on Saturday as England played a narrow game, using forwards to bash away. There was no creativity or guile and Flood became a figure of despair.

5 Retaining possession Sam Warburton has become the Richie McCaw of European rugby, testing the tolerance of referees at the breakdown. England’s problem was not winning ball but retaining it – they failed to respond to Warburton’s threat – and their failure to clear out rucks left their scrum-halves with slow ball. England also rarely offloaded and their predictability ensured that an overworked defence held its shape.

 

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