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Brought Down To Earth

England Taken To School By The Irish

Posted Mar 22, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Johnson will have to take lessons from the defeat

If you’d offered Martin Johnson’s England five wins, one loss and the Six Nations trophy before the tournament began, they probably would have bitten off your arm at the elbow.  Ironic then, that their defeat in Dublin should end up being quite as crushing as it is.  In his column for the Telegraph, Nick Easter described the sensation as ‘a big, dull ache, a sense of what might have been.’  Despite the fact that they’ve ended up winning the Six Nations, the absence of a grand slam that was there for the taking will make the trophy little consolation.

England must learn their lesson.  If they can remember the pain of the disappointment at the final whistle in Dublin, they give themselves a far greater chance of lifting the World Cup later on this year.  Above all else, it is the first sense of true disappointment that some of the younger players will have felt, and a subsequent lesson for the younger players.  They should do all they can to never feel such a sense of loss again.

The other most telling lesson that England can learn from the experience is a renewed sense of perspective.  Their growth as a side in the last year or so is undeniable, but at the hands of the Irish, they have been given an abject tutorial in their weaknesses by a far superior side.  One of their primary issues in previous matches had been at the breakdown, and the Irish were able to take full advantage of this and beat England to the punch almost every single time.

England simply lacked the necessary runners to enable them to commit men forward to gain the quick ball and then continue to carry it.  As well as this, they were visibly lacking in discipline (to their credit, an uncharacteristic habit) and gifted a quick nine points the other way to idiotic penalties.  The physical commitment was there, no doubt, but it was the technicality that was most absent, their opponents being far more capable of stringing attacking plays together.

As for the Irish, coach Declan Kidney will be wondering why his side were only able to generate such a fearful performance with their backs to the wall, and what he has to do to view this sort of discipline and power during every game.  If the Irish play like this consistently, they will match any team in the world.

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