In addition, their two form second rows were injured, Sexton and Murray were undercooked from injury and the Henshaw experiment was interesting but unnecessary. Their midfield was a real mess and the kicking game rather average – the space against England is out wide but it never happened. Interesting that Schmidt chose not to employ Carbery or Larmour two more form players. In the post match interviews he sounded accepting of the reality check. Time will tell if this is a blip – I suspect so. But enough of the excuses, let us praise England undilutedly.
My last piece talked of payback and what it takes to deliver – this was it. In hunting down this Irish team into every corner and across every blade of grass, two sublime passes from England’s now nailed on midfield created two winning tries. My long held but frustrated admiration of Slade was gloriously justified and he has such great awareness of space. Tuilagi was asked to do exactly what he can so well – batter through and keep the ball for the next phase. Jonny May will never play a better game for his country and Daly is world class, never any question of a doubt there. PLEASE do not change this backline.
Jones’ prematch commentary was respectful of the occasion and his players, almost embracing normality – another welcome shift and he also made his best selection yet. Payback indeed from the players exclusively and what a test match, credit to both sides and a privilege to watch.
Meantime, I know about Greeks bearing gifts, but French bonhomie hit the heights in the Stade de France on Friday night as a scarcely deserving Welsh team took home the spoils, and George North who was rather average apart from his two tries somehow was somehow man of a very soggy match. Liam Williams was in fact a class apart and the one bright spot. France could ship 50 at Twickenham especially if they allow Hail Mary passes from Second row forwards but I bet they don’t… the psychological boot is on the other foot. But Gatland is right, Wales have forgotten how to lose and France needs more than Gallic shrug and a change of fortune.
Anyone spot the new man Sam Johnson doing some smart things in the Scottish midfield against Italy? Probably won’t trouble the better teams quite yet, but I like the look of him and Scotland will definitely fancy their chances this weekend with Russell and Hogg also in stellar form.