Monday, 12 March 2007

Result England 26 - France 18

The surprise result of the tournament so far. There was a number of things England needed to improve from the Ireland game if they were to seriously compete against the French, as discussed in the Preview post. They changed these areas and the team managed to become a unit after only a few hours of training together.

The pack fought well and secured decent ball for the backs. England attacked through the middle giving us the options that lead to the two tries. This was all discussion in Preview on the game about what England needed to do if they were to seriously compete. The fact that the man of the match was a forward shows how well England competed for the ball allowing our backs into the game, more so than any of the previous 6 nations matches this year. This also slowed down the French allowing us to re-group and form a defensive line. How often did you see Dominici with the ball in space??? We needed more pace in the middle that Farrel couldn't supply. Flood, Catt and Geraghty supplied this swiftness and was able to break through the middle setting up options to score the tries. For the first try Flood still had Robinson on his outside. For the second Catt and Tindall supporting Geraghty, plus Lewsey following up on his right hand side.

Corry in the second row was great, he may be to slow as a number 8 at international level, but as a second row he adds an extra dimension to the England squad. The stats show just how well England competed for the ball and how much of the game they controlled. The recycling was so much better and kept the momentum going. When you consider the experience of the back line with Tindall, Catt, Lewsey, Robinson and then add some talented new players trying to make a mark; Strettle (get a hair cut ;)), Flood and Geraghty you get a mix that gives England the right balance. Plus we still have experienced players like Wilkinson and Cuteo to come back.

However, lets not get to carried away. This is new side that may have just surprised the French as they didn't know what to expect, especially with introduction of closed training sessions. Wales next week will of had chance to review the tapes and work out some counter tactics. Plus they will be desperate to avoid the white wash giving them an extra incentive on the day. There are still things England could improve on, as they should always be with any side.

"If you are not going forward you are going backwards, there is no such thing as Static". Not sure where this quote comes from, but it is a key point in Strategy.

I shall write up the preview of the Wales v England later in the week once Brian Ashton picks his squad. Who will be fly-half?? Who will be on the bench??? Will Farrel, Wilkinson and Vickery be back in the side?? Will he reward Catt and Flood places in the starting line up?? With Tindall out we need another centre! It's important to remember that both Flood and Geraghty have played at centre for their respective clubs, so don't be surprised to see Wilkinson at fly half and Flood or Geraghty at centre along side Mike Catt. What about Matthew Tait he has played well as a sub evrey game?? I don't think Geraghty will start at fly-half as his place kicking has been poor in the England Saxon games earlier in the tournament and his kicks to touch where a bit wayward at the end.

It will be interesting this week to see the squad selection and hear the pre-match psychology. The psychology employed before a battle is an important point in strategy texts such as the "Art of War". I will discuss this in more detail on the Preview post before the last games of the 6 nations, but it will be interesting to hear the language of Brian Ashton and Mike Catt/Phil Vickery before the Wales game.

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