Winning Le Crunch is still


Beating the Jocks is always good – though it’ll never make up for the pain of 1990 – but doing the Frogs in their own back yard, even if it isn’t the Parc des Princes, is still the best in the 6 Nations, no matter what state they’re in.

Other Celtic nations just don’t matter as much no matter how much they think they do and how much the England game means to them.

It’s another step forward for England under Lancaster and maybe they actually did learn from their mistakes. This week they managed to hang onto the lead, unlike against Wales and a huge positive from Lancaster, no stereotyped mass changes on the hour. In fact other than for injuries there was very few substitutions.

Just the way it should be if the players on the park are performing. If they aren’t take them off but don’t try and fix something that isn’t broken.

Oh and a nice fuck you to Leicester coach Matt O’Connor, who slagged off Lancaster for not picking his 9, 10 combination of Youngs and Flood. Even though Youngs has consistently been awful when he’s played off late – this time only given 7 minutes to bugger things up which thankfully he didn’t manage – and Flood just flounces about and you wouldn’t trust when the pressure was on. Yes young Farrell has missed some kicks but if Strettle’s try had been given against Wales who would you want taking the conversion from the right touchline?

Toulouse coach Guy Novès should also be on the end of it. The French gave nothing until it was too late. For the first half they didn’t seem interested in playing any football bar putting foot to ball and with the lacklustre way they bothered to chase the kicks was embarrassing.

Though England did seem to follow their lead after half time when they themselves indulged in mindless kicking away of possession, when they should have just been keeping hold of the ball and grinding down the clock with the 5 point lead, they took into the break. Don’t know what they’re game was there.

There was also the unfortunate re-emergence of giving away kickable penalties that so blighted Martin Johnson’s tenure. It was the only thing that kept France in touch. The first two games where they gave up nearly nothing within anyone’s range shows they can play the disciplined game. Though it might have helped if there was a decent ref in charge. Anyone have a good word to say about Rolland? He’s one of a large group of officials that seem to be of the opinion the crowd that’s turned up and those tuning in are doing so to watch him.

Yes Ashton was stupid in having a go at Rougerie when he followed through with a tackle on Fodden after the mark was called but was it really enough for a penalty. And if Sharples instinctively sticking a hand out to try and grab an interception is a yellow card why did Fofana stay on the park for leaping and at full stretch with no hope of gaining possession knocking on?

So was that 10 minutes when Sharples was sin binned and they defended brilliantly and didn’t give up a single point where it was won. Or the first half tries from Tuilagi – crunching hit by Ashton, nice bit of thinking by Farrrell to gather, spin and offload, lovely pass by Dickson great run and then that little leap by Tuilagi to make sure the last ditch tackle didn’t take him out before he crossed the line. Or Fodden’s – brilliant charge by Morgan, he’s done that a lot this tournament and is one of the finds, lovely inside layoff out the back of the hand to Fodden who still had a bit to do and carried the tackler from the five yard line to the try line.

Or that great break by Croft in the second half for his individual score? Would like to see him doing more of that, he’s got the ability and pace to beat many a player.

As for their one try in reply, I would say they got things a bit wrong tactically there. With the number 8 Morgan off – don’t know why that was, ran himself into the ground? – his replacement Dowson put himself on the line in a last ditch challenge taking a knock to the head and then a stamp on his face, from his own team mate, so he had to go off to be replaced by a front row forward. With a scrum just off their try line I don’t understand why they stuck Webber in as flanker. Changes had been made as Robshaw moved to number 8, why not keep the flankers as they were and put Webber in at 8 then they couldn’t target him as they did? Seemed strange that.

That aside was it enough for Lancaster to keep the job? Most people would say yes. They go into the Ireland with a good chance of finishing second in the table, knowing a bit more concentration, luck, and less substitutions against Wales they could have been going for a Grand Slam. And a process has started, players are in place why chose someone new who could dismantle all this? But then this is the RFU we’re dealing with. All bets are off.

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