1.England do not need a “genuine seven” as Eddie Jones said he wanted in his England side to beat most of the 6 nation teams.
When England beat Scotland this Saturday gone i personally did not think they looked out of sorts at all after controversially to many picking Haskell at 7. Yes the man did not make a turnover but he did make 16 tackles with many forceful carries in one building up to England’s 2nd try by Jack Nowell. Robshaw also didn’t make any turnovers but he’s now playing 6 his preferred position with no pressure to make turnovers every match and looks like he’s thriving there.
Scotland open side John Hardie was being raved about before the match with people thinking Scotland having that genuine fetcher at 7 was going to be a key factor in deciding the result of the match. The New Zealand born 7 had a great world cup with Scotland but didn’t deal well with the physicality of the England back row. England breakdown wise can compete with most of the teams in the 6 nations with players like Dan Cole, Lauchbury, Haskell, Robshaw, and Billy Vunipola all reasonably good at the breakdown especially Lauchbury who averages 2 turnovers a game which is incredible considering the man’s a 6 ft 6 second row, shows what a athlete the man is.
The only team who will test England at this area in this tournament has to be Wales especially if they go for two openside’s with the Warburton/Tipuric combination which terrorised England back in 2013 in their 30 3 thrashing at the millennium stadium. Kvesic has been included in the squad for the Italy match so who’s to say England will stay without a genuine 7, watch that space James Haskell…
2. England’s set piece is looking more than solid, well at least for at the moment.
England’s line out was absolutely superb to say the least against Scotland on Saturday, it seems Dylan Hartley back at hooker has sorted out the lineout problem which was so apparent in the world cup last year and has to be a key reason why British Lion Tom Youngs didn’t even make the England squad for the 6 nations. England out of 15 lineouts were successful with 14 which is a fantastic stat considering the state of it at the end of the Lancaster era. They also had one lineout steal showing how George Kruis has really taken that duty of lineout operator in his stride plus working under England forwards coach Steve Borthwick otherwise known as ‘The lineout guru’ has really benefited the England pack at least when it comes to lineout time.
Now to the scrum, has to be said was not at its best in the first half with Joe Marler the guilty suspect with this image below not showing his scrummaging ability off to say the least. By the 50 minute mark though with Make Vunipola coming on the scrum was very solid and started to go forward with England increasing the Scotland’s penalty count. Hartley starting at hooker has cemented the scrummage up due to his superior scrummaging over Youngs and the obvious fact that he is over a stone heavier than Youngs.
I still have doubts over Marler when it comes to scrum time and i was surprised he started in front of Make Vunipola who has been a part of one of the best scrummages in european rugby this year with Saracens. Not to say he will not start against Italy. Overall lineout looking fantastic with Borthwick at the helm and looking a real strength of England’s to take forward, scrum has improved also but not as dramatically as the lineout has but England’s scrum did look solid which a lot of red rose fans will take after the battering it took in the 2015 world cup.
3. England will only go wide in this new regime if its 99.9 % on that something will come of it.
If you watched the England game on the weekend against Scotland in detail you would of noticed the style of rugby England played. From the base of the ruck they rarely made more than one pass before a carry by this i mean Danny Care was running the show getting forward/backs to run hard lines in field at the defence to drag the oppositions defence in field to make room out wide and to create mismatches. This didn’t happen as much as Eddie Jones would of liked but it happened enough for Jack Nowell to score a decisive try in putting England a score in front of Scotland in a key time of the match.
Leading to the try Haskell simply had a hard carry which he did well in considering he was standing still when taking the ball, he took in around 2 man and 3 if you include the man attempting to counter ruck. By this happening the defence got sucked in towards the ruck and with quick ball a nice wrap around from Farrell linking with Mako Vunipola who supplied a Sonny Buildesk no look pass which put Nowell in with his 8th try for England in 11 games. Another reason why for me Vunipola should start in front of Marler.
Some stats to finish off this article for you, England attacked Scotland’s defence 75 percent of the time with a simple crash ball off 9 or 10 making dents infield compare to only 25 percent of the time doing 2 passes from the ruck then carrying. Makes sense when you think about it though, by the second pass with todays test rugby defences the defence is already in your face and you don’t have much room to go anywhere apart from backwards.
Finally Eddie Jones’s England made more than 2 passes then attacked only 5 to 10 percent of the time in Saturday’s Calcutta cup match. As said though they scored from that 5 percent showing a efficiency and clinical edge to this England side which hasn’t been part of England side’s DNA for a quite a while now. Now onto Italy for England where fans will be looking for more so called creativity with the likes of Joseph only getting the ball 4 times against Scotland but a wins a win and for a first match under new coach they got what they needed. A win.