After England’s impressive victory over Wales in Cardiff we take a look at the … things Stuart Lancaster and his coaching staff will have learnt from the game…
1. George Ford should now be first choice fly half
Ford proved beyond doubt in Cardiff that he is the man to lead England’s backline into the World Cup later this year. Barring a couple of charge downs and missed kicks Ford was excellent for England. He stood up well in defence, attacked the gain line and kept England playing in the right areas of the pitch with his kicking game.
2. The rest of the Bath boys are also deserving of their place
All of the Bath players involved in Cardiff had an excellent game, and at times we saw club combinations proving very effective. Kicks from Ford to Joseph and Watson helped get England on the front foot at times and showed the importance of understandings. Both Watson and Joseph were excellent last night in attack whilst Attwood was a monster in the pack.
3. Players needs to be selected because of what they can do, not what they can’t…
Injuries somewhat forced Lancaster’s hand selection-wise last night, however it proved the importance of selecting the best players. At times it seems like England have selected players because they are unlikely to make a mistake, rather than because of what they can do. Last night proved the importance of selecting the best players, despite their potential failings.
4. Someone needs to figure out how to take better advantage of being a man-up
One of the most disappointing aspects of last nights performance was the failure to take advantage of being a man-up when Alex Cuthbert was sent to the bin. The same thing happened last year at Twickenham against the All Blacks. Failure to take advantage of a man advantage could prove costly during the World Cup.
5. Haskell should keep hold of the number six shirt
Other than a missed tackle for the Welsh try, Haskell was impressive for England last night and proved the benefit of having an extra ball carrier in the back row. He was heavily involved in both attack and defence and put in several impressive carries, including one where he was only stopped by the post.
6. There is impressive strength in depth
Much of the talk in the build-up to the Wales game was of how many players were missing through injury. What last night proved was that in virtually every area England’s back-up players are more than capable of stepping up as they performed beyond expectation in almost every area.
7. The whole team needs to start a bit quicker
One of the biggest struggles for the current England side is that it seems to take them twenty minutes to ease into games. Whilst they were able to battle back into the game in Cardiff, we saw last year that their second half comebacks weren’t enough to catch the likes of the All Blacks and Springboks so they now need to focus on starting games from the first whistle.
Do you think there’s anything else England will have learnt from their victory over Wales?