You can kind of forget the victory over New Zealand, it as a “nothing to lose” game – though magnificent in it’s stuffing of the world champions – after the previous autumn defeats. And you can discount the stuffing of the Jocks, I mean it was just the Jocks, just because they beat an Italian side who hadn’t come down from their own victory over France doesn’t make them world beaters. No matter what the Jock media think.
Both of those games were at home and in extenuating circumstances away in Dublin, different matter all together.
England haven’t travelled well for some time now, certainly not to Ireland, where they hadn’t won for a decade until Sunday afternoon. All highlighted in the period of the game between the 56th minute and 66th minute when James Haskell was serving a 10 minute sin bin penalty. In recentf encounters on Ireland’s home ground yellow cards have cost England dearly here after Ireland initially pulled level with the penalty kick from the yellow card infringement England eventually won the 10 minutes 6-3.
It was a controlled display that showed great maturity for an inexperienced side. A complete contrast to to some past seasons when after being ahead in such a fashion they would let the opposition get back into the game and then be overrun when down to 14.
It could have gone that way when Ireland pulled level but bar those two kickable penalties and one that O’Gara missed they didn’t give Ireland a sniff of a chance to score. Thoroughly outplaying the home side in all aspects of the game.
Not least under the high ball. Pissing down rain and England fullback Alex Goode was secure under all bar one which he didn’t have much of a chance with, alongside him Mike Brown looked as equally secure. While Ireland kept dropping balls and knocking on. It’s in Ireland and they are Irish, you’d think they’d know how to play in the rain. Don’t think I’ve seen so many poor attempts at taking high balls as in that first half.
Ireland never looked like crossing the try line, while for a couple of bounces and a bit of better footballing skill Tuilagi could have had a couple himself after coming on as a substitute. Even Stuart Lancaster’s substitutions didn’t wreck England’s progress. Not introducing Toby Flood helps in that regard as Farrell showed his class, controlling things.
Ben Youngs has come in for some criticism on here and yes he was better this week than last. His kicking played a part but he’s still far too ponderous releasing the ball. One step, hesitate, dummy pass, pass.
And I can’t even have too much argument about the ref. Haskell probably did deserve the yellow, did have a wild swipe with his leg at the ball. Though Irish prop Cian Healy should have seen red for his stamp on Dan Cole and then a wild forearm later.
So the Frogs up next. A classic
which French will turn up after they’ve lost their first two games of the championship for the first time in 31 years. At home which you don’t know helps or not, they don’t like the Stade de France and the crowd gets on their back quickly if they play like they do. Bit of luck Saint-André will prove to be as stubborn and not change his losing side. But then they could turn around and do what they did in the Autumn.
England just have to stay calm. Kick the kicks. No stupid penalties. No Toby Flood. No yellows or reds.