In wondering how the team that finished fifth in last season’s Six Nations, England, managed to overcome one of the heavy favourites for the World Cup, Ireland, in their own back yard a number of pundits missed the obvious.
Yes there was the the fact that having some of the powerhouses back made a difference. Billy and Manu. Great to have the pair of them back and battering.
There was also the fact that you know Ireland thought they just had to rock up and England would roll over, after all they hadn’t won over there in eight years. Beaten New Zealand, don’t have to bother about these mugs. Full of ’emselves.
But the biggest reason was the lack of George Ford. Now I know he didn’t start in the defeat to Ireland last season but he did start the rest of the games in that disaster of a campaign. And in this game how many times did Ireland break through the English defence? Without Ford there as the weak link, flouncing out of tackles, cringing as he bounced off a back rower, they didn’t get through. The only time they did was for their second try on the 80th minute and guess who had been brought on just three minutes previously.
Farrell at 10 and Ford not even on the bench would be the ideal future.
Another thing that helped was the reduction of by the numbers substitutions. Early ones. Oh, it’s 50 minutes we have to change him for him. There was one and it almost cost England. Kruis coming off not long into the second half. A couple of minutes later and Itoje is hobbling off. It really could have hurt England, the lineout wasn’t the same after.
Leave the subs on the bench until they’re really required.