SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England must reboot their aimless kicking but I’m of the generation who never complains about a hard earned victory in Wales
- England had to come from behind to beat Wales 24-13 on Saturday afternoon
- Eddie Jones must reboot England’s kicking to be more proactive and precise
- England have that to work on but I won’t complain of a hard-fought win in Wales
- However, a big improvement is required to beat a full-strength France next week
This was certainly no classic but England have endured enough bad experiences against underdog Wales sides over the years to know this was a banana skin that badly needed avoiding.
Owen Farrell and his team did that pretty well, they didn’t allow Wales enough space or possession to really sniff an upset win, and I am of the generation of English rugby players who never complain about a victory over the Bridge. They are always hard earned.
England want to win the Autumn Cup and played tournament rugby last night but equally they will know a big improvement will be required to win the final next week when they can expect to meet a full-strength France
England were forced to battle back from a losing position to beat Wales on Saturday afternoon
England’s kicking was aimless at times and they must improve for their clash with France
That will be the defining game of this autumn for both sides, the first of a series of titanic clashes I suspect between the old adversaries leading up to the 2023 World Cup. It is important England finish the job in style.
This was a strange game, mostly a complete reversal of the Ireland match last week when England had little possession or territory, certainty in the second half, but were more than happy to defend and control the game through their physicality and dominance of the collisions and tackle area.
This time England had a glut of possession and at times it almost seemed like an embarrassment of ball and the varying options available confused them a bit.
There were some good attacking moments but still too much aimless kicking. Everybody says it’s the modern way but it doesn’t always sit well with me. It’s not just the box kicking, it’s the kick-tennis jousts and the lack of craft and direction of many kicks.
Victories over Wales are hard-fought and there can’t be too many complaints about a win there
A full-strength French team await England in the final of the Autumn Nations Cup next week
The kicking needs to be more positive, proactive and precise, England need to use the kick pass much more, the dink behind defences and kick to turf when kicking long to embarrass and turn the defence. Don’t give opposition back threes these easy catches and clearances.
There was a moment early in the second half, about 45 metres from the Wales line, when England secured prime turnover possession and they had players flooding the blindside channel. Ben Youngs, as if on autopilot, hoisted a box kick into the corner.
That was the time to ruthlessly put the ball through the hands and score seven points. To do that the mindset needs to be changed.
Wales can take positives from their performances after suffering some bad luck on Saturday
So England have that to work on and I feel an improved Wales can prepare for their final game with a deal of positivity. Not that I ever thought they would win, nor deserved to win, but they enjoyed little luck last night.
Henry Slade’s try certainly came after Dan Biggar was illegally tackled in the air in the build-up.
Where England are very good at present is the lineout, where Joe Launchbury and Maro Itoje had their usual impressive games with Tom Curry, moving around but often operating at the front of the line, beginning to emerge as England’s third option, which is important for the make-up of the side.