Sunday, 2 February 2014

The morning after...

Having slept on it I have come to the inescapable conclusion that England's defeat in Paris yesterday, narrow as it was, was almost entirely of their own making.

Not only were the first couple of French tries of the somewhat soft variety from a defensive perspective, having hauled themselves back into the game and established a winning position, England then promptly shot themselves in the foot.

Instead of continuing with the dynamic and direct ball-in-hand rugby that had seen them dominate the 3rd quarter, England appeared to switch to defensive mode, attempting to contain France and defend a 5 point lead - a ploy which ultimately failed.

The England cause also wasn't helped by the seemingly obligatory emptying of the bench. Yes, Ben Morgan and Tom Youngs made inroads into the French defence, but the control that England had exerted for previous 30 minutes was lost and the French were able to re-establish not only momentum but, crucially, self-belief.

The rest, as they say, is history - and I only hope that England learn from this.

Meanwhile, in Cardiff, Italy showed again that they are no longer pushovers in this tournament whilst Wales were very, very, ordinary. On this form there will be no third straight championship for the men in red - although having said that Wales were still several notches above their performance in the  opening fixture last year and we all know what happened then...

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