Wednesday, 1 December 2010
A largely clean bill of health led to consistency of selection with obvious results. Not everyone will have agreed with every selection but Johnson & Co got selection mostly spot-on and no doubt that this group will form the bulk of the 2011 RWC squad.
Attacking Performance: A-
Performance against the Aussies was A+ and there were enough glimpses in the other 3 matches to suggest that England are at least headed in the right direction. A huge improvement since February.
Defensive Performance: B-
No lack of effort, but way too narrow early doors against the All Blacks and simply ran out of steam against the Springboks. 2 tries conceded in each game suggest there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Much improved clearout rate at the breakdown and offloading game a revelation. However, set piece issues were evident with an inconsistent lineout and scrummage prone to conceding soft penalties and the pack was simply beasted by the Springboks in the final game.
Youngs and Flood largely ran the show for England until deprived of front foot ball by the Springboks.
Midfield doubts persist but back three were consistently good.
For the first time in a while it was clear to see what England were trying to achieve and their execution was (mostly) very good. 2/3 of the team are not only now bedded in but can be regarded potentially as serious players on the world stage, if not yet quite world class. Doubts persist, however, over hooker, one lock position, openside and the centre combination, areas the England management will need to address during the 6 Nations, a tournament which will take on huge significance if England are to take any self-belief to New Zealand later in the year.