England Six Nations- what happened go the bench?

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Post by robbo277 on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 8:29 am

The early part of Eddie Jones' reign was chacterised by England holding level for the first 50/60 minutes then the bench coming on and "finishing" the game.

This year's Six Nations has seen England lead 5 times but fail to win 2. An 18-3 second half against Wales and a 7-31 second half make grim reading.

I'm not going to be too hard on England for the Scotland game. For the first half we were much the better team and other than a charge down Scotland got nowhere near scoring.

The second half was obviously a different beast. Clive Woodward revised history to fit his narrative on ITV saying changes destabilised the England effort, when really the damage was done before Eddie used the bench.

Against Wales, Wales turned the tide with a couple of penalties. They didn't take the lead until Adams 68th minute try. At this time Jones had only subbed Sinckler and Kruis. By the end of the game, Jones made 2 injury enforced changes and only 1 other tactical switch with Moon coming on in the 77th minute.

Against Scotland, Scotland scored a try at the end of the first half and then 4 more between minutes 47 and 60. Ignoring Moon going off after 5 minutes, only Sinckler came off before the 60 minute mark for Cole. Wilson came off after 61 minutes and there were a few more changes with 10 to go, notably George Ford who got us back into the game.

So why is Eddie unwilling to use his bench to turn games? Either to stop a team on the charge as Wales were or Scotland were, or to launch a push for victory from 14-13 down against Wales or at 31s with Scotland? It wasn't until we got the subs on against Scotland that we actually scored a try and got back into a game.

Is it a lack of trust in his bench? There's no attempt to even change the style of play. A lot of people decry preplanned substitutions but all Eddie's decisions at the moment seem to be reactive and not proactive. I.e. he's taking off players he doesn't want on the pitch, not putting on players he does want on the pitch.

Mako, Itoje, Lawes and Underhill returning to fitness would give our forwards a boost. In our strongest pack I'd probably have Mako and Itoje starting and Lawes and Underhill off the bench. Now those are 2 players who can come on and add impact. I'd also have a fit Hartley on the bench to bring on leadership and clarity. I'd probably have him take over the role of captain when he got on the pitch, whether or not Farrell was on. A fresh mind who's been watching and analysing the game and can bring a fresh perspective.

In the backs, we need to identify a few different styles of playing so we can work out some permutations we can go to. We had 4 potential midfield combinations last night - 10 + big 12 + Slade, 10 + 2 big centres, 2x 10s + big centre, 2x 10s + Slade. All our backs changes were like for like. Could we have gone for Te'o and Manu earlier in the game and changed our style of play? Or Ford/Farrell to try to keep the ball in hand more?

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Post by majesticimperialman on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 8:59 am

I don't understand it either, ie it because thge 15 on the field looked so comfortable by getting the bonus point try early, he EJ thought the game was done and dusted and had no need to use the bench ( Finishers ) as he used to call them.

England or rather EJ may be for gotten rugby is a 80 minute game and not 40 minute game.

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Post by SecretFly on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 9:30 am

Because the benchers aren't as good as the starters and such imbalances can swing games away from a winning side in their own right? So maybe he just hasn't felt inclined to gamble?

Which of course IS a gamble. But saying finishers always finish out a positive game positively doesn't obviously always hold true in practice. And then Jone would be lynched for taking off better players too early. Can't win in the gambling game...unless you win.

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Post by robbo277 on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 10:12 am

SecretFly wrote:Because the benchers aren't as good as the starters and such imbalances can swing games away from a winning side in their own right?  So maybe he just hasn't felt inclined  to gamble?

Which of course IS a gamble. But saying finishers always finish out a positive game positively doesn't obviously always hold true in practice.  And then Jone would be lynched for taking off better players too early.  Can't win in the gambling game...unless you win.

I was reluctant to be too critical after the Wales game. But after making the same mistake 3 weeks later then I think it's fair to ask the question. I'd stop short of likening him to Nero, fiddling while his empire burnt down, but I think it's obvious he isn't getting maximum impact from his bench.

In 2017 England won a lot of games late. France and Wales in the first two weeks being the obvious ones. England had a bench plan. Youngs, Ford and Farrell to start, win territory and attack wide through Joseph and the back 3. Late in games Farrell shifts to 10 and Te'o comes on. Carriers like George and Sinckler joining the frey in the pack and Care comes on at 9. England keep the ball in hand more, run more direct up the middle against tiring teams, while we retain a threat out wide. On the whole, it worked.

Now there seems to be no bench plan and a reluctance to use the bench at all. When he did against Scotland, he went like-for-like in all his subs. He didn't try to change the game plan.

If you're a rugby player with a good rugby brain who has been a little bit detached from events while you have sat watching for 50 minutes, you should have a decent idea of how teams are shaping up. You've also been sitting next to the coaches who can be in constant dialogue with you. You should be able to come on and provide clarity. That, as well as a fresh pair of legs, should help make up for any slight shortfall in ability. Unless the players is so much worse than the starter, in which case you shouldn't be on the bench in the first place.

There are some times when using your bench is not appropriate, and you should back the guys on the pitch. But this is the third time in 12 months England have blown a big lead to fail to win the game. This would have been the perfect time in a no-lose situation to make a few subs around the time that Scotland did and try to change the game before it got to 31 each.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 10:21 am

The bench is irrelevant. Why did the starters drop their game.


Did it against Wales and Italy.

At least we have time to fix it.

Wales and Scotland won't improve...we will.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 10:21 am

Oh and Farrell needs dropped.

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Post by SecretFly on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 10:30 am

Won't improve?

Well - maybe it's relative. England are a very strong side with threats everywhere...but I think I'd give a chance at saying Scotland will improve towards the WC from the run they've had this 6N.
Italy too. Won't win the WC but might just upset someone else's dreams if they're complacent about that challenge offered by them.

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Post by jeffwinger on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 10:56 am

My theory is that Eddie is trying to overload players now to simulate the additional strain of back to back to back World Cup games and the likelihood that in those crunch World Cup games he will leave the best players on for longer. You can push as hard as you like in training, but there’s no substitute for live match situations and I believe that Eddie wants the likes of Youngs, Farrell etc mentally and physically conditioned for playing the full 80 (plus possibly extra time in knockout games).

Like it or not, the Six Nations is not the end goal for Eddie. Yes winning games as we go along is great, but it’s clear that the process is more important to him at this stage than results. I’ll happily take the results of the last 2 6N tournaments if they stand us in good stead come November.

Over the last year, the trend for throwing away dominant starts has become quite concerning - SA twice last summer, NZ in the autumn, Wales and now Scotland. However I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt as we’ve had far more good patches than bad ones over this period and hopefully these experiences can be learned from. This 6N we had 8 good halves (some very good) and 2 poor ones. This is an improvement on the autumn which was in turn an improvement on last years’ 6N.

I’m relatively happy with where we are 6 months out from the start of the World Cup.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 12:38 pm

SecretFly wrote:Won't improve?

Well - maybe it's relative.  England are a very strong side with threats everywhere...but I think I'd give a chance at saying Scotland will improve towards the WC from the run they've had this 6N.
Italy too.  Won't win the WC but might just upset someone else's dreams if they're complacent about that challenge offered by them.

Nah , cant see it.

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Post by rosbif on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 12:45 pm

I think the captaincy doesn't sit to well on Farrell he is going to get a red card for his shoulder barges and doesn't take the team by the scruff and change tactics,10 minutes of forward play would have disrupted the Scottish momentum. In hindsight him and Youngs should have been subbed at half time.

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Post by SecretFly on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 12:49 pm

Yes, and Hindsight has won plenty of World Cups too. Very good coach Wink

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Post by EnglishReign on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 1:19 pm

England were jaw-droppingly ridiculous in that 1st half. Then they were jaw-droppingly ridiculous in the 2nd half, for different reasons.

I can see us beating the All Blacks but losing to Japan in consecutive weeks.

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Post by SecretFly on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 1:58 pm

I believe the ABs will be jaw droppingly ridiculous through 40 to 50 minute stints too. But the jaw won't drop so much on seeing them as people expect that level as normal for them.
Anyway, New Zealand will have methods and stints that blow the mind this year, I'm sure of it. But it all comes down to rugged bloody defence in the end, don't it. Hell, even the old adage of: "we'll score more than you" doesn't really scare people no more.

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Post by EnglishReign on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 2:11 pm

They've lost their aura anyway, SF. What was it, one try in two games v Eng and Ire? Bang average.

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Post by Barney McGrew did it on Sun 17 Mar 2019, 5:49 pm

The problem England have is that they should be looking to win a RWC. Playing as they did in the 2nd half we’d be lucky to get out of our pool (and we’ve been there). Any decent team now knows how to beat England – get into their heads, and don’t give up. OF, our captain, set the scene for our 2nd half – a charge-down try by a hooker who outruns a winger, then not taking an easy 3 points with 50 seconds to go. Youngs bought into the headlessness when he looked up from a ruck and passed straight and willingly to a player... in blue. Everyone fell off tackles, no-one committed to the ruck, and defence patterns were jettisoned. Unpopular as this might seem, we actually need more mature leaders back like Hartley and maybe even Robshaw. And Billy needs a look at himself. England appeared to have won the game in the 1st half and only needed to keep it tight in the 2nd. England have the talent, this team just doesn’t yet have the mentality and I’m not convinced they have enough time to acquire it - perhaps we should be thinking of 2023.
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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 1:15 am

England have been no strangers to throwing away dominant starts in the past. The 1997 27-27 draw against New Zealand always sticks in the mind but we were happy with that, as we were at a low ebb, and expected to lose heavily.

Less happy, memories are the 1999 Five Nations match at Wembley against Wales and the 17-18 loss to France at Twickenham in 2005 (we didn't score a point in the second half, the same as in the 2018 New Zealand match). Two different coaches, and teams at different stages in their development but the same grim feeling watching both games slip away. The 2012 win against New Zealand was a dominant first half display which we almost threw away, as the All Blacks got back in the game. On that occasion, the Brad Barritt try unexpectedly swung momentum our way again.

Despite some of the headlines, this year's Wales game doesn't really have much in common with the Scotland game. Scotland fits more with the losses in South Africa, because we seemed to score tries for fun in all those matches, only to watch the opposition score them back.

The Welsh game is more in line with other recent games against Wales. In particular, the 2015 Twickenham loss, and the very near-run thing in 2016, where Wales nearly stole it at the end with three quick tries. We've rarely put Wales away in recent years. The last time we did it in a competitive match was the 2006 Six Nations, whereas Wales did it to us in 2013.

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Post by yappysnap on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 2:16 am

Barney McGrew did it wrote:The problem England have is that they should be looking to win a RWC. Playing as they did in the 2nd half we’d be lucky to get out of our pool (and we’ve been there). Any decent team now knows how to beat England – get into their heads, and don’t give up. OF, our captain, set the scene for our 2nd half – a charge-down try by a hooker who outruns a winger, then not taking an easy 3 points with 50 seconds to go. Youngs bought into the headlessness when he looked up from a ruck and passed straight and willingly to a player... in blue. Everyone fell off tackles, no-one committed to the ruck, and defence patterns were jettisoned. Unpopular as this might seem, we actually need more mature leaders back like Hartley and maybe even Robshaw. And Billy needs a look at himself. England appeared to have won the game in the 1st half and only needed to keep it tight in the 2nd. England have the talent, this team just doesn’t yet have the mentality and I’m not convinced they have enough time to acquire it - perhaps we should be thinking of 2023.

I don't agree with that last bit, we were saying the same after the last RWC too. There comes a time where you have to stop saying maybe next time, and aim to win the thing.

This team are incredibly good, but they have their weaknesses. Namely focus over the full 80, perhaps that's all mental, perhaps it's a conditioning thing as well. We can work on it though and sort it.

Personally I think the players were over trained by the end, they'd steadily got worse over the 6N's and by the end were too tired. I hope Eddie has learnt from this for the RWC.

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Post by yappysnap on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 2:25 am

Also I think it shows the importance of Mike Brown and Joseph. The whole back three looked to have lost the plot in the second half for England, and a guy like Brown would be just what you want there literally shouting at them and telling them where to be and what's needed. May and Daly in particular looked like school boy backs who hadn't played the game before.

Joseph was lauded for his defense before, and with just how poor Manu and Slade have been in defense i'd be tempted to have him around. Manu in particular looked lost in the 2nd half, too busy thinking about his new contract, not enough time spent training and studying the tapes on his opposite number.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 6:56 am

There is a balance to using your bench but i agree it's been used well this 6 nations. Useful that we've blooded Genge Curry Slate a little more but I still don't think Daly is a full back. It looks like Jones has decided he is but looking for leadership surely Brown comes back to the fore. Or Watson is moved back there immediately if fit and ready.

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Post by BamBam on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 10:00 am

I really don't think Slade has been poor defensively at all, I've been so impressed with his all round game. He also looked surprisingly quick for the first try, didn't realise he had that in him, after Curry he's been probably our best player

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 12:55 pm

Tuilagi and Slade both had some ugly defensive stats this weekend gone.

Brown (as he was mentioned above) could be another bench option. Look to keep the same (ish) starting line-up for a fast start, then Hartley, Cole, Lawes and Brown onto the pitch to help close games out. We've then got sub half backs if our starters get a bit ropey or if we want to change the point of attack with Ford/Farrell as a combo, and perhaps like Genge at loosehead and Underhill in the back row who can come on and bring some fresh energy to the team.

Talking about Genge and loosehead, Mako has been a huge loss since he went off against France. As he went to a comprehensive school and doesn't fit the media profile of a "Future England Captain", his leadership is probably underplayed, but he is always spoken about by fellow players and coaches as a real leader in the changing room.

Could we see a World Cup 23 of:
Mako, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, Billy, Youngs, Farrell, May, Tuilagi, Slade, Watson, Daly
Hartley, Genge, Cole, Lawes, Underhill, Robson, Ford, Brown

Would that 23 be better suited to put in an 80 minute shift?

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Post by propdavid_london on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 1:18 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:The bench is irrelevant.  Why did the starters drop their game.


Did it against Wales and Italy.

At least we have time to fix it.

Wales and Scotland won't improve...we will.
Scots had a number of injured players unavailable - Hogg coming back in will significantly lift their game

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Post by TJ on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 1:24 pm

Injured players from this 6N for scotland.  Out for all or a part of the series
Barclay, Scott, Taylor, Bennett, Big Ritchie, Wee George, Dunbar. Fagerson M, Fagerson Z - Out for all or most of the series
Hogg, Kinghorn, Russell, Berghan, Nell, Watson, Wilson, Bradbury
Plus others I have forgotton
Thats basically our entire fit team missing for much of the 6N.  Of course Scotland will improve with the majority of them back

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Post by Eejit on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 1:29 pm

In fairness to GeordieFalcon in my experiences in these boards he is a lot more knowledgeable about Scottish rugby than many on these despite presumably having the unfortunate affliction known as being from Newcastle.

He is right in as much as I don’t think there is a massive difference in quality in those that played on Saturday to the ones that were out in our frankly ridiculous injury situation. Obviously other than Stuart Hogg who is probably the second or third best full back on planet earth.

As an example if a first string Glasgow XV played the second string Glasgow XV I’m not entirely sure the first stringers would win the game!

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 2:00 pm

robbo277 wrote:Tuilagi and Slade both had some ugly defensive stats this weekend gone.

They were far from the worst in our backs though.

Tackles made; missed; success percentage:

Daly 1;3;25%
Nowell 2;4;33%
Slade 7;3;70%
Manu 5;3;62.5%
May 6;2;75%
Farrell 1;2;33%
Spencer 0;1;o%
Ford 4;0;100%

Youngs and Te'o attempted zero tackles.

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Post by TightHEAD on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 2:12 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
Daly 1;3;25%
Nowell 2;4;33%
Slade 7;3;70%
Manu 5;3;62.5%
May 6;2;75%
Farrell 1;2;33%
Spencer 0;1;o%
Ford 4;0;100%

Youngs and Te'o attempted zero tackles.

I made this point on another thread but was shot down. Farrell, Nowell and Daly cost us big time.
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Post by robbo277 on Mon 18 Mar 2019, 4:28 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
robbo277 wrote:Tuilagi and Slade both had some ugly defensive stats this weekend gone.

They were far from the worst in our backs though.

Tackles made; missed; success percentage:

Daly 1;3;25%
Nowell 2;4;33%
Slade 7;3;70%
Manu 5;3;62.5%
May 6;2;75%
Farrell 1;2;33%
Spencer 0;1;o%
Ford 4;0;100%

Youngs and Te'o attempted zero tackles.

Ugly stats all round then, other than for the defensive colossus George Ford.

The cover defence was awful trying to track line breaks. May missed McInally and cut Farrell of while doing so, while I think Daly and Nowell fell over each other trying to tackle Johnson as he ran through. But the cover defence should have been better protected.

In the case of the McInally try and the Johnson try (and the Russell try, thinking about it) no tackles were actually missed in the front line defence. A charge down, an intercept, and a no-look pass that split a huge hole in the defence meant the back 3 were left trying to clear up unopposed runners, and missed tackles off the back of that (although I don't think anyone actually got close enough to miss Russell). Tuilagi himself could be "revised" to 5/4 if you consider that he left the hole for Johnson to run through.

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Post by yappysnap on Tue 19 Mar 2019, 4:33 am

Tuilagi missed so few because he just didn't get into position. Quite a few times he's just run up out of the line or run off in another direction. Can't miss tackles when you're running away from where the ball is.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 12:34 pm

robbo277 wrote:Tuilagi and Slade both had some ugly defensive stats this weekend gone.

Brown (as he was mentioned above) could be another bench option. Look to keep the same (ish) starting line-up for a fast start, then Hartley, Cole, Lawes and Brown onto the pitch to help close games out. We've then got sub half backs if our starters get a bit ropey or if we want to change the point of attack with Ford/Farrell as a combo, and perhaps like Genge at loosehead and Underhill in the back row who can come on and bring some fresh energy to the team.

Talking about Genge and loosehead, Mako has been a huge loss since he went off against France. As he went to a comprehensive school and doesn't fit the media profile of a "Future England Captain", his leadership is probably underplayed, but he is always spoken about by fellow players and coaches as a real leader in the changing room.

Could we see a World Cup 23 of:
Mako, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, Billy, Youngs, Farrell, May, Tuilagi, Slade, Watson, Daly
Hartley, Genge, Cole, Lawes, Underhill, Robson, Ford, Brown

Would that 23 be better suited to put in an 80 minute shift?

I thought both the Vunipolas went to public school at some period, Millfield rings a bell.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 12:43 pm

Mako at Millfield in 6th form (at least) Billy at Harrow. I believe they were scholarships, probably linked to Bristol and Wasps' academies

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 1:13 pm

yappysnap wrote:Personally I think the players were over trained by the end, they'd steadily got worse over the 6N's and by the end were too tired. I hope Eddie has learnt from this for the RWC.
That's what Eddie said 6 Nations 2018.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 1:46 pm

Scottrf wrote:
yappysnap wrote:Personally I think the players were over trained by the end, they'd steadily got worse over the 6N's and by the end were too tired. I hope Eddie has learnt from this for the RWC.
That's what Eddie said 6 Nations 2018.
I think they are overcoached rather than overtrained.

Go back to the Australia test in 2010 AIs. England get a turnover on their own line. Youngs realises there is space and feeds Lawes who sets Ashton away for a memorable try. Now Youngs would kick, only feeding Lawes if he wanted a better kicking position. If he got it Lawes would take the contact. 

It could be argued that Ireland and Wales are also overcoached. Playing a simple game plan can bring quick success. Well drilled teams will have a lot of success, but you usually need a bit more than that to win the WC. While we have shown the ability to score tries in a variety of ways, so more than just a plan A, we seem incapable of reacting to changing circumstances.

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England Six Nations- what happened go the bench? Empty Re: England Six Nations- what happened go the bench?

Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 1:50 pm

I'm not too sure about that first part LT. I think they have made wrong decisions but more to do with flicking between styles of play. We ran the ball from deep from Scotland and I'm sure Youngs quick penalty put Slade in for Mays try? In a similar way we've seen offloading and passing out of tackles by our forwards so it's not as if they've been told not to. Yes reacting to certain situations seems a bit slow. And that includes use of the bench.

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England Six Nations- what happened go the bench? Empty Re: England Six Nations- what happened go the bench?

Post by robbo277 on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 2:33 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:
robbo277 wrote:Tuilagi and Slade both had some ugly defensive stats this weekend gone.

Brown (as he was mentioned above) could be another bench option. Look to keep the same (ish) starting line-up for a fast start, then Hartley, Cole, Lawes and Brown onto the pitch to help close games out. We've then got sub half backs if our starters get a bit ropey or if we want to change the point of attack with Ford/Farrell as a combo, and perhaps like Genge at loosehead and Underhill in the back row who can come on and bring some fresh energy to the team.

Talking about Genge and loosehead, Mako has been a huge loss since he went off against France. As he went to a comprehensive school and doesn't fit the media profile of a "Future England Captain", his leadership is probably underplayed, but he is always spoken about by fellow players and coaches as a real leader in the changing room.

Could we see a World Cup 23 of:
Mako, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, Billy, Youngs, Farrell, May, Tuilagi, Slade, Watson, Daly
Hartley, Genge, Cole, Lawes, Underhill, Robson, Ford, Brown

Would that 23 be better suited to put in an 80 minute shift?

I thought both the Vunipolas went to public school at some period, Millfield rings a bell.

I did search it and the he went to primary and secondary school in Wales and then a secondary school in Gloucester - all state - and then Millfield, possibly just for 6th form on a rugby scholarship as LT said. Whereas someone like Itoje (who is the media's "future England captain") went to a prep school, a fee-paying boarding school and then Harrow.

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England Six Nations- what happened go the bench? Empty Re: England Six Nations- what happened go the bench?

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