Monday, 11 June 2018

England at Ellis Park - the Verdict is in...

Two days later and I'm still not at all sure what to make of the most bizarre of rugby games at Ellis Park on Saturday.

A stunning start by England, with plenty of front foot possession for George Ford to orchestrate the attack.

Then, 24-3 up, mistake after mistake after mistake - Billy Vunipola drops the re-start, Ben Youngs misses touch, Maro Itoje misses a tackle on the excellent Faf de Klerk, Elliot Daly fails to ground a kick and South Africa have 2 tries and are right back in the game and it's panic stations all round.

Did playing at altitude play a part? It seems likely, but it's still difficult to explain how a game that England were comfortably controlling could so quickly slip from their grasp.

The Springboks played some great stuff, but what is clear is that England's defence is being opened up way too easily. Query whether the departing Paul Gustard should even be on the trip, but when the main defensive strategy appeared to be to try to decapitate de Klerk, something is clearly not right.

Eddie's attempt to stem the flow by, before half time, sending on flanker Brad Shields in place of a lock, the unfortunate Nick Isiekwe, was also very odd, serving only to de-power the England forwards. If anything it was the back row that were struggling, with Robshaw and Vunipola conspicuously off the pace.

And then subsequently to blame defeat on the players' collective mentality was very poor from Jones. What happened to the coach taking full responsibility?


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