International Rugby is about making good decisions when the pressure is on and if it wasn’t an already interesting enough game, England’s Jekyll and Hyde performance against Wales has left us with plenty of unanswered questions ahead of the England vs Australia encounter this weekend.
Obviously the defining moment of the game was England’s decision to kick for the corner.
It’s been discussed in great detail in many places, so in the video above I wanted to revisit that Lineout and talk through a couple of the options England had available to them and illustrate why the one they chose failed so drastically.
Go for the draw or go for the win? Everyone has an opinion. Mine was that I was ok with England’s choice to kick for the corner (I outline why here).
Now whatever your reasoning you have to make sure that if you’re going to roll the dice your next play has to be effective even if it means changing the call.
And that inability to deviate from the call is where England very much came up short.
Many don’t agree, but I think the call to kick for the corner was really positive rugby, it was aggressive and about closing out the pool not just the game. But to then take the safest of options, when you have a backline that’s already scored from a similar position playing against a decimated defensive line and you’re sending them backwards and creating space?
Green and Golds very own Matt Rowley made a comment earlier in the week, on Twitter, about England’s negative mindset in attack, and he was right.
@neil_treacy @Murray_Kinsella @thedeadballarea @CharlieFelix it was the decision making that blew me away – scrum pen when attacking on 22m
— Matt Rowley (@MattRowley) September 29, 2015
Regardless of your views on the legality, the England scrum was dominant enough, yet it wasn’t used as a weapon to send defenders backwards and create space it was used as a way to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Of course there is nothing wrong in that, but I think when we parry it against what happens here with the choices England take, we can start to see they seem to still have a mental block around trusting their ability to break down defences efficiently.
I mean think about it, Wales at that moment in time had their 10 at 15, their 14 at 13, their reserve 9 at 11, their reserve 10 on the pitch. Surely you have to fancy your chances?
Whilst so much has revolved around the negative aspects of Englands performance, defensive lapses and this decision we shouldn’t forget that England bossed the game for the best part of 60 minutes and looked like they would push away and close out the test match.
Ultimately it’s important for Australia to not get sucked into playing in their own half, and it’s even more important for Foley to bring his kicking boots. As we saw last week with Biggar, as long as you can keep that scoreboard ticking over then you negate one of England’s biggest threats – Farrell’s boot and drain their confidence. Do that, shut down Ben Youngs and Australia will drain England’s confidence.
Let England build a lead, allow Youngs to get around that corner, bring his forwards into the gaps and run the tempo of the game and England could well start playing some actual rugby.
Either way it’s set to be another belter of a game.