I thought they’d lose before

I saw the ref.

When I saw Kaplan’s smug little phizog I knew England wouldn’t beat Wales, 14 versus 16 is too much to ask for a side that’s limited anyway.

Yes the cause isn’t helped by Martin Johnson pretty much saying they were going to be on the wrong side of the laws because Kaplan – worst case of Short Arse Syndrome about – and his Southern hemisphere mates don’t need an excuse. And yes England were guilty of various acts of breaking the laws but they weren’t the only ones. And that was the main problem, not that Kaplan penalised England for their indiscretions but that Wales, and pretty much every team England play, either got off lightly or completely for the exact same things England not only get penalised with three points against but with another 10 minutes down to 14 men.

Though they out-scored Wales by two tries to one, they were ultimately undone, yet again, by ill-discipline. Whatever the root of referee Jonathan Kaplan’s uneven scrutiny of the teams, England cannot claim the things he said he saw perpetrated by white shirts were illusory.

They do, however, have a legitimate claim that Kaplan, intent on his discovery of English criminality, failed to see repeated offsides by Wales at the breakdown and in wider defence.

If Kaplan looks at the replay of this game he will see that Powell joined the breakdowns from all manner of exotic angles without demur. At one ruck, when England had won the ball, Kaplan was so intent on telling England’s fringe players to not offend, that he did not look over his shoulder, where the Welsh backs had advanced three yards.

Further, his failure to send Lee Byrne for 10 minutes’ rest for upending Armitage was simply and badly wrong. His tolerance of Ryan Jones’ deliberate killing of the ball late on was more arguable, but not unarguable. Brian Moore

Added to all that excellent analysis by the best in the game, Sackey was running through on a loose ball near the Welsh line, now the bounce didn’t go for him to score a try but he was shouldered in the back off the ball, nothing given. Now if it had been the other way round what chances Kaplan would have his little yellow card out quicker than you could say “not again”.

It was all just too predictable when I saw who had the whistle.

The indiscipline doesn’t help and neither does having such a weak, incompetent captain on the field as Steve Borthwick as he toadies up to the ref listening intently to everything he is being told – “yes boss” – and then his dismissed with an “off” or a “no” and a wave of the hand. Someone with the guts and personality to point out the infringements of the opposition to the ref is required. Borthwick is not and never will be that man.

I can’t say after it all ended on Saturday I was as optimistic about this England set up as so many out there seemed to be, yes it was better than the Italy game, it could hardly have been worse, but there’s so much still wrong and I don’t think they have the personnel to change it.

Yes there was good points, Joe Worsley probably had his best game in an England shirt, so many decried and derided his selection but he was outstanding in stopping the Welsh midfield and back row – without giving away stupid penalties it has to be said. Sackey can still run forward and take a try, his defence is still iffy, always going high and trying NFL style to bump/bang into people than actually tackle them, it was strange to take him off though. Riki Flutey finally showed why he was picked and England finally looked half decent when they actually gave him possession and ran the ball, instead of aimlessly kicking it away. Armitage also looks more than capable at this level, just needs to get his hands on the ball that are not from kicks more.

Funny how a bit back your taff types used to whinge about England winning by penalties and would go on about who scored more tries. Two to one I seem to remember it was on Saturday.

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