Sports News

Matt Dawson column: ‘England fly-half George Ford stepped up in tough conditions’

I have never played in conditions as bad as those in which England won at Murrayfield on Saturday.

One moment you could kick the ball into the wind and it was not too bad, then the next time it would be going behind you. The passes were drifting on the breeze. Throwing the ball in the line-out, you would miss it by two metres. It was impossible to judge.

It was a shame because it had the makings of a really good Test match but I am not sure we learned anything about either team.

As far as game management goes, we have not really learned anything about how England are going to play going forward.

I cannot believe for a minute that England will look at video from the game. It will be destined for the bin.

Potentially that could be a danger going into the Ireland game in two weeks’ time. Ireland have had a couple of games to get into their rhythm, beating Scotland and Wales. They have got analysis to build on over the next couple of weeks.

On Saturday, I was expecting the Scots to be a bit more able to adapt in those conditions. Every time England made a mistake, kicked straight to touch or knocked it on, you thought they would be under pressure.

Scotland had their chances and will be genuinely annoyed at not being able to apply more pressure to England on the scoreboard.

Six Nations 2020: All the best bits from the second week

‘You would have said Ford was captain’

One thing England can take from the match is certain standout individual performances. Fly-half George Ford was excellent in those conditions.

If you had never seen England play before, you probably would have said he was the captain. That was really noticeable for me.

George was getting England going forward and had a performance that he was enjoying. He was enjoying the up-and-unders, cross-field kicks and grubbers through. When Scotland applied pressure, you could see him grow a couple of inches in stature.

Maybe that was giving him the confidence to get stuck into the forwards the way he did and give them the praise they deserved.

The pack probably appreciated the encouragement more from someone like him, who would not ordinarily come and give them a tap on the backside.

George Ford (right) has won 66 England caps since making his debut in 2014

England need more of that. It takes a bit of pressure off captain Owen Farrell so he can concentrate on his game.

I would like to think that the senior leadership group have got together and said they cannot just rely on Owen. Other people have got to take responsibilities and I think they did that.

There were a lot of people grafting away. You had the likes of Willi Heinz and Ben Youngs when he came on geeing everybody up and leading as they should be.

It has to be more player-led because on days like Saturday the pitch is a lonely place when you are playing in those kinds of conditions and it is 3-0 on a knife-edge. No coach can understand what it is like on the middle of the field so the players have got to make those calls.

‘Ellis Genge made me smile’

‘We shut up the critics’ says try-scorer Genge

I had a smile on my face when I saw try-scorer Ellis Genge’s post-match interview. I have been there.

I was watching the interview and there is part of me that was, like Ellis, sticking a middle finger up to anyone who is writing bad things about you. I do not really have a problem with that type of response.

But it highlights that whenever a coach or player says they do not read that stuff, they are talking utter nonsense.

It does have an effect on how you prepare in the week. There are far more ex-pros than current pros and we know what the drill is. Just because we did not have social media in our day it does not mean we do not know what they are going through hearing stories about themselves.

It is a motivation and the types of players that can handle that type of pressure and use it positively are going to benefit from it. Those who put their head in the sand probably get affected in a more negative manner.

I liked the fact that Ellis was drinking a beer and telling it how it is. I want to see more of that from the England camp.

Six Nations highlights: Scotland 6-13 England

‘England have homework to do on Ireland’

England have got a lot of work to do now to understand how they can break down Ireland, who have got a bit of momentum and mojo back.

Ireland are likely to bring something different, whether that is attacking plays or a style of defence. There will be plenty of homework on head coach Andy Farrell to understand how he coaches in these types of scenarios.

What is he going to be trying to do to break England down? Because he knows the squad, England have got to combat that.

The preparation is very much in the tactics. I would like to think England should have an advantage with having Farrell’s son Owen and plenty of players that have played under the Ireland coach.

But Ireland will have the upper hand. They will have walked away from Saturday’s game thinking that there has been genuine progress in their style of play and strategy.

England will be thinking they have managed their way through terrible conditions and tough opposition away from home so they will have confidence and they are playing at Twickenham.

There is lots of motivation. England will want to rectify what went on in Paris in front of their home fans so I think England will win.

They seem to like being in an underdog position and tend to bounce back well. The Ireland game will be a good opportunity for them.

Matt Dawson was speaking to BBC Sport’s Becky Grey.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
Source link

Related posts

Warren Gatland ‘no idea’ if Louis Rees-Zammit will return to rugby after NFL bid


Fog of post-truth Baz-chat obscures England’s progress under Ben Stokes


Australia v India: Heading into the Boxing Day Test, this is Paine’s Australia now


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy