Three games into the 6 Nations and not one


Very lax of me, I mean England snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Paris and then the ineptness of the Jocks at home against the Auld Enemy should have elicited something here.

There should have been a whole screed about how funny the Jocks are after that pointless drubbing they got. Ah, but they’re back as world beaters now after sneaking past the might of Italy.

It’s even taken me from Saturday to Thursday to get round to the best game so far in this season’s tournament. England versus Ireland at Twickenham.

It can be no coincidence that the best game so far was played on the best surface so far. No clods of earth piled high on the pitch at headquarters. The Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield pitches are shocking. The nematodes are to blame in Edinburgh we’re told, except it’s been a useless soggy pitch since the stadium was built up. The same in Cardiff it’s always been a soggy loose mess even with the roof closed.

So the game, well I wasn’t too confident for England, the France game showed their vulnerabilities at the beginning and end of games. The ability to just drop off.

Looked like happening again against Ireland. really wasn’t confident when I saw who the ref was but when that first scrum completely buckled what little confidence there was exited stage left.

What followed somewhat lifted the spirits. Though the lack of real cutting edge, highlighted by the completely butchery of a great chance the one time they crossed the Irish try line. But they were playing well and very importantly weren’t giving Ireland any chance to kick easy three point penalties.

Then of course all that confidence gained over 35 of those first 40 minutes sack without a trace as Ireland went from 3-0 down to 10-3 ahead in the blink of an eye. First they scythed through England’s defence with ease resulting in Kearney’s try, then they gave away a stupid kickable penalty.

England of the last few years would have capitulated very quickly in this situation, especially against such an experienced side who had their tails up.

Nobody seemed to pick it out, indeed I read someone say he ran the game when he was on the park, but England rattled Sexton with some big hits. He wasn’t the same shortly after extending that lead. And it alls tarted going wrong for the visitors when he missed the re-start, not going ten yards and going out on the full.

From then things just turned around, Sexton’s kicking was off and it knocked those in green off kilter. As Robshaw, Brown and then Care made them pay, the former two cutting through brilliantly and the latter finishing it off. All level, then Farrell extends the lead to 3.

But could they hang on? They couldn’t against France in a similar situation but this time round Lancaster didn’t make his standard by the numbers substitutions. 60 minutes came round and he didn’t bring off a player who wasn’t struggling or tired who was brought off only because an hour had passed.

And that helped them hang on. Desperately at times, Launchbury’s brilliant tap tackle on Kearney, a game saver that you don’t know how he managed.

Lancaster has finally moulded a good side together. But if they don’t defeat Wales come the next game all this would be for nowt.

Will it match up to this game?

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