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England Do The Job In Cardiff
Posted Feb 08, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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With results in the first round of the six nations looking very much on the unpredictable side, it will be a relief to every fan of the English rugby side to see them return from the Millennium Stadium with a victory over the Welsh a side. What’s even more impressive is that overall, Martin Johnson’s team looked good value for the points they obtained.
Given England’s away record in the Six Nations previously – a record which was weak to say the least – the 19-26 victory will answer questions from many critics, especially given that it was England’s first win in Cardiff since 2003. Whilst not many are necessarily expecting a performance in the World Cup that mirrors that of that year, this England team are slowly amalgamating the sum of their parts and are growing in both strength and confidence.
Whilst the team is consistently improving, it’s also worth noting the strong individual performances. Chris Ashton, scoring two tries that take his totally to five in the last seven tests, is proving to be the consummate finisher. Toby Flood is growing in both maturity and stature, on his way to truly replacing the ever-present shadow that Jonny Wilkinson casts over the position. Tom Wood, making his international debut, was excellent all match and Dylan Hartley brushed off pre-match comments from Welsh coach Warren Gatland by not missing a trick throughout the whole match.
What now for Wales? It’s an intriguing question, as they have now gone eight matches without grabbing a win. It’s a record that Gatland needs to eradicate before it becomes a stone around the neck. The Welsh didn’t play badly by any stretch – they certainly fought as hard as you’d expect from any team of Welshmen. However, they didn’t seem to find anyway to break the England backline, running sideways far too often.
Unfortunately, the Welsh discipline also provided a problem, with Craig Mitchell ending up in the sin bin for diving over the top. Ten of England’s points were scored whilst he was off the field. What will make this worse for Welsh fans is that as well as showing the home side’s frailty, it also demonstrated that England are developing a real killer instinct. Watching the old enemy begin to regain their form is not something that will be sung about in the valleys, especially not with their own side suffering so.
England are well on their way to regaining their form of five years ago. Wales look like they could soon be in serious trouble.