for ruffling England’s feathers.
Italy had been getting it from all sides this last few weeks and Eddie Jones didn’t help with his “take them to the cleaners” remark.
So it’s no surprise they came up with something, they had to, another thrashing in the Six Nations at the hands of England – some were talking 100 points – and things would have got harder for them.
So they came to Twickenham with a plan, a plan to something to upset England, knock them out of rhythm and not be on the end of that expected stuffing.
Well England helped them with one part, they haven’t exactly been in any sort of rhythm so far in this seasons Six Nations. Yes they’ve won both games previously but haven’t been at their exhilarating best. Nothing approaching the autumn form.
And by christ didn’t it half work. England completely discombobulated. Completely clueless.
Eddie Jones is right in that week in week out this would destroy rugby as a spectator sport but it was a one off by a team in desperate need of something. They didn’t disrespect the game but maybe they showed the same respect for England that had been coming their way of late.
Eddie’s bluster was classic Mourinho, take the hit himself, deflect from the ineptness of his players on the day.
Italy’s tactics weren’t responsible for Farrell being awful with his kicking from the tee on his 50th cap. They weren’t responsible for England’s kicking in general being awful. They weren’t responsible for England’s players standing around doing nothing while Italy reacted as the ball bounced off the post from a penalty, for their first try. They weren’t responsible Ford’s powder puff attempt at a tackle for the Italy’s second try. They weren’t responsible for the number of stupid penalties given away by Cole and Hughes.
They weren’t responsible for England players not being able to think for themselves, for them to have to figure out something that hadn’t been pre-scripted for them to do.
Eddie Jones said it wasn’t rugby league, no and it’s not the NFL either.
Play what’s in front of you and think for yourselves. Is it too much to ask… well yes by the looks of things.
If three blue jerseys are beside you then there’s space somewhere, right in front of you for a start as they aren’t contesting the breakdown. Just keep charging forward.
In the end Danny Care looked like he’d figured it out and then the clock ticked towards the 50th minute and off Care came for Youngs. It looked like a by the numbers change the sort that buggered up games when Lancaster used to do them.
Thankfully they got away with it but Care looked far sharper than Youngs has this tournament. Youngs was outstanding in the autumn, looking slimmer and far sharper than ever before but this time round he looks back to his dithering worst. Is it not having Billy at number 8 to make him look good?
Things looked so much better with Mako back, Billy can’t return soon enough.
So Eddie Jones was right, it wasn’t a spectacle you’d want to watch every week but the Italian coaches were right to use it, right up until England got to grips and started scoring. Then they needed a plan B because they still lost, still had a few tries put on ’em and still have no points.
England have three more than anyone else, with that one extra victory. Three wins without getting out of neutral, never mind second gear. And here come the Jocks, so full of themselves after a couple of wins.
Yes England will have to up their game because the Jocks have been playing well and always lift themselves for England. Hopefully this will have scared England into pulling their finger out and maybe it might have made Jones think twice about riling the opposition, pick your battles Eddie, the Jocks don’t need any more ammo…