Saturday, 5 February 2011
What a week, what a game...
The rest of the week should have been taken up with the build up towards the Six Nations. Sadly, the DTRTC (deal that refuses to complete) put paid to that idea as a series of early starts and late nights took me through to Friday. Fortunately, however, by late Friday afternoon all round 'deal fatigue' had set in amongst the parties to the DTRTC and I was able to make it home in time for the match and avoid being an unintended victim of the tournament schedulers.
And so to the match - and what a match it was. Not one, perhaps, for the purists and at 23-9 up England really should have gone on to win comfortably, but the blood and thunder nature of the game played in such a superb atmosphere was exactly what the Six Nations is all about and it was a brilliant way to open the tournament.
As for England, as Johnno put it afterwards, they are due a few "rollickings" on Monday, not least Ben Foden for his ludicrous "little brother" comments before the game and Chris Ashton for that swallow dive - I'd personally have driven down to Cardiff to shoot him if he'd dropped the ball. There were, however, many positives - Toby Flood was excellent, as was Mark Cueto and in the forwards Tom Palmer and Dylan Hartley were immense and Tom Wood had a very promising debut. The spell following Louis Deacon's sin-binning, when England controlled possession for the best part of 10 minutes, was really when the game was won and England should take great heart from a first win in Cardiff since 2003.
As for the Welsh, what on earth has happened? Bradley Davies was the only forward to emerge with much credit, Mike Phillips was awful, Jamie Roberts was anonymous and both James Hook and Ickle Shane were reasonably easily contained. Yes they have a few injuries to deal with but to be dominated at home like that has to be worrying. Messrs Gatland and Edwards have a job on their hands.
So, the 2011 Six Nations is now up and running. Bring it on!