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England v Scotland 6N Championship Saturday 4th February 2023

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Post by BigGee Sun 29 Jan 2023, 6:05 pm

First topic message reminder :

England v Scotland
Twickenham Stadium
London

Calcutta Cup & 6 Nations Championship

Saturday 4th February 2023

Kick Off - 16.45



Well here we go again, The Auld Enemies meet up in their first games of the 6N to play for the Calcutta Cup, just the same as last year, except at a different stadium.

Time was, Scotland rocking up at Twickenham was pretty much a certain defeat, but we have won and drawn on our last two trips down south, so maybe HQ does not hold the same fear for us as it once did.


First games of the 6N can of course be a bit of a lottery, when form goes out of the window. Both sides though, could only be described as having patchy form in the first place, with England playing badly enough in the autumn to manage to get their coach the sack and Scotland hardly setting the heather alight either. So a hard one to call.

England under a new coach, have everything to prove and the players have world cup squad places on their minds. A big ask for a new squad under new coaching to immediately get what the new regime wants straight away.

Scotland are perhaps a lot more settled than they have been arriving for recent tournaments and the polemic between the coach, Townsend and the star playmaker, Russell seems to have simmered right down and has the making of a fine romance at the moment, can't live with each other, can't live without. Townsend is also probably playing for his job as well, as his contract has not been renewed post WC either. He says he would consider staying on, but whether he gets the chance will likely depend on a very good tournament from this perennially under performing side, albeit one that can pull off big wins on their day.


Home advantage for this fixture is still massive though and Scotland's depth will be sorely tested going into the competition with some key injuries, so the bookies money probably still rests with England. A close and exciting game though hopefully and I have got a vested interest as I am going!


My guess at the Scotland team:

1. Schoeman
2. Brown
3. Nel
4. Gray R
5. Gilchrist
6. Ritchie - capt
7. Crosbie
8. Fagerson M
9. Horne
10. Russell
11. DVDM
12. Tuipolotu
13. Harris
14. Steyn
15. Kinghorn


Subs

Sutherland
Turner
Fagerson Z
Skinner
Watson
White
Jones H
Smith





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Post by lostinwales Sat 04 Feb 2023, 11:18 pm

Drop Farrell. Smith Kelly Lawrence(?) midfield. All the attacking play came through Smith anyway

I don't know

The team tries were really good. Chessum great. Sinckler played his best game for England for a while, although I am sure someone else will say he was awful.

Two things I am confident about saying.
1) Our shape went out the window when JVP went off.
2) The Scottish centres seemed to cause panic every time they got the ball, even if they didn't do much.






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Post by BamBam Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:51 am

majesticimperialman wrote:
Ba NmBam wrote:Put the bottle down maj

Not had a drink yet.

Well that escalated

majesticimperialman wrote:Does amy one truly  think/believe yjay Smith at 10 Farrell aya12 is actualy working in England's favour?

I am not so ure to be honest. maybe play Farrell at 10 12 ? Marchant 13Snith on the bench against Italy see what fiferenc that make to England#s style of play.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 05 Feb 2023, 2:53 am

Individual selections aside, that wasn't too disimilar to the way England played under Jones. Lots of individual errors, poor game management, and big players not finding ways to impose themselves on the match.

Just seen the 02 post-match fan event on YouTube. Jamie George said England have a very specific idea about how they want to play the game. Today, they were let down by "too many switch-off moments...going outside that system".

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Post by George Carlin Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:29 am

BamBam wrote:
majesticimperialman wrote:
Ba NmBam wrote:Put the bottle down maj

Not had a drink yet.

Well that escalated
Laugh
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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 05 Feb 2023, 7:12 am

Pfffttttttt......quite disappointed with the result, but not greatly surprised. Some glaring issues issues to be dealt with.

Backrow - all 3 struggled to varying levels for me, perhaps Ludlam least. Completely outplayed...terrible defence from Curry and Dombrandt at times.

Scrum half - JvP was far from impressive, Youngs even worse. Youngs starts or isn't in the squad...Mitchell is better than both for me.

10-13 - I quite liked it at times and could get better. Smith looked more involved, I wouldn't be adverse to sticking with it.

Back 3 - wow....totally overshadowed. Malins isn't a winger, he can't go on the outside...OHC was awful and Steward struggled yet again with his defence.

I'm going for:

1. Genge
2. George
3. Cole
4. Ribbans
5. Itoje
6. Chessum
7. Earl
8. Dombrandt

9. Mitchell
10. Smith
11. Murley
12. Farrell
13. Marchant
14. Watson
15. Steward

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sun 05 Feb 2023, 7:25 am

Didn't think OHC really got the ball to tell how well he'd play tbh. Whose your bench 9 for Italy then sarge? Quirke?

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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 05 Feb 2023, 7:40 am

England's midfield was pretty woeful. Farrell asked to play as a more traditional 12 benefitted Smith but showed up Farrell's weaknesses. Marchant I was really disappointed with, particularly his alignment in defence which played a part in two tries. Smith was very good in patches and poor in others, still looked like a rookie.

Still to many penalties being conceded. Tight five generally went well but agree with those that said the backrow struggled. Ben Curry didn't adapt to the step up in physicality and Dombrandt just looks like a good club player currently. That would be an area we need to address but given our preferred flankers weren't available not the end of the world. Ludlam isn't an 8 at this level though and neither is Earl, if Dombrandt can't do the 80 we'll need a carrying force on the bench.

Attack looked much better than under Eddie, impatience and inability to look at the ball cost us. Defence was an issue with poor alignment and some pretty iffy air tackles with Steward managing a couple of corkers there. Fairly easy fixes for the Italy game.

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 8:20 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:Pfffttttttt......quite disappointed with the result, but not greatly surprised. Some glaring issues issues to be dealt with.

Backrow - all 3 struggled to varying levels for me, perhaps Ludlam least. Completely outplayed...terrible defence from Curry and Dombrandt at times.

Scrum half - JvP was far from impressive, Youngs even worse. Youngs starts or isn't in the squad...Mitchell is better than both for me.

10-13 - I quite liked it at times and could get better. Smith looked more involved, I wouldn't be adverse to sticking with it.

Back 3 - wow....totally overshadowed. Malins isn't a winger, he can't go on the outside...OHC was awful and Steward struggled yet again with his defence.

I'm going for:

1. Genge
2. George
3. Cole
4. Ribbans
5. Itoje
6. Chessum
7. Earl
8. Dombrandt

9. Mitchell
10. Smith
11. Murley
12. Farrell
13. Marchant
14. Watson
15. Steward

That's good but Farrell at 12? I don't think so.
JvP not great but Youngs shocking when he got on. Just gave it away. Mitchell/Quirke needs a look from coaches. JvP stays in squad though as he is good enough.
Agree about Dombrandt, doesn't have carrying threat that is needed at times. I think he will improve with Eng though as will all team with more time under Borthwick and team, they did only have a couple of weeks.
Itoje has definitley lost his mojo.
Sinckler finally showed what he can do again.
Be harsh to drop Malins after scoring two good tries but agree defence not great. OHC I'm sorry to say didn't do a lot, maybe he needs to watch his highlight reel to discover what to do.

Tough one for Borthwick to take losing first game but I think he and team need time and it will improve.

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Post by Geordie Sun 05 Feb 2023, 9:12 am

If everyone is fit...

Youngs gone forever
Itoje needs a time out to actually 'earn' that shirt again...

For Italy

1. Genge
2 George
3 Sinckler
4 Chessum
5 Ribbans
6 T. Hill
7. B. Curry/ Ludlum
8 Dombrandt

9 JVP
10 Farrell
11 OHC
12 Kelly
13 Slade
14 Watson
15 Steward

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 9:19 am

The problem we have is it's Italy next so England "should" win and whoever is picked will it tell us enough. Ideally play Scotland again with changes to side but think that's a bit unlikely....

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 05 Feb 2023, 11:26 am

Having Italy next week gives the squad a few more weeks together before the tougher games.

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 11:30 am

True but I'd rather they played say Wales next but it is what it is.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 05 Feb 2023, 11:55 am

I'd expect minimal changes for the game Vs Italy. Possibly at 6 and 12, though the change at 12 may necessitate one at 10. I'm not fussed as Farrell was appalling as an orthodox 12 and Smith with free region still look to immature to run the show.

Ludlam will stay in the backrow and Dombrandt by default but he's on increasingly thin ice surely. He really only delivered in patches and made some clangers. Ben Curry worked industriously but seemed a bit under powered.

I'm hoping one of the main work ons this week will be clearing the ruck. Scotland were good at going just past the ball so that White has the ball on a plate was could easily dictate tempo. JVP was digging for it often so that tempo slowed without England having the choice.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sun 05 Feb 2023, 11:59 am

Your thoughts on Youngs Sam?

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Post by lostinwales Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:03 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:I'd expect minimal changes for the game Vs Italy. Possibly at 6 and 12, though the change at 12 may necessitate one at 10. I'm not fussed as Farrell was appalling as an orthodox 12 and Smith with free region still look to immature to run the show.

Ludlam will stay in the backrow and Dombrandt by default but he's on increasingly thin ice surely. He really only delivered in patches and made some clangers. Ben Curry worked industriously but seemed a bit under powered.

I'm hoping one of the main work ons this week will be clearing the ruck. Scotland were good at going just past the ball so that White has the ball on a plate was could easily dictate tempo. JVP was digging for it often so that tempo slowed without England having the choice.

The stats they were showing during the match indicated that we were getting the ball out of the ruck significantly quicker than the scots

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Post by lostinwales Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:04 pm


On Dombrandt. He did good things and bad things, but he's almost in by default. I don't think there is an alternative who would be better right now. Mercer?

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:08 pm

lostinwales wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:I'd expect minimal changes for the game Vs Italy. Possibly at 6 and 12, though the change at 12 may necessitate one at 10. I'm not fussed as Farrell was appalling as an orthodox 12 and Smith with free region still look to immature to run the show.

Ludlam will stay in the backrow and Dombrandt by default but he's on increasingly thin ice surely. He really only delivered in patches and made some clangers. Ben Curry worked industriously but seemed a bit under powered.

I'm hoping one of the main work ons this week will be clearing the ruck. Scotland were good at going just past the ball so that White has the ball on a plate was could easily dictate tempo. JVP was digging for it often so that tempo slowed without England having the choice.

The stats they were showing during the match indicated that we were getting the ball out of the ruck significantly quicker than the scots

Exactly, significantly quicker. Its just JVP was either knocking it on or box kicking it 20m too far....

JvP really struggled with his decision making from the base.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:14 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:I'd expect minimal changes for the game Vs Italy. Possibly at 6 and 12, though the change at 12 may necessitate one at 10. I'm not fussed as Farrell was appalling as an orthodox 12 and Smith with free region still look to immature to run the show.

Ludlam will stay in the backrow and Dombrandt by default but he's on increasingly thin ice surely. He really only delivered in patches and made some clangers. Ben Curry worked industriously but seemed a bit under powered.

I'm hoping one of the main work ons this week will be clearing the ruck. Scotland were good at going just past the ball so that White has the ball on a plate was could easily dictate tempo. JVP was digging for it often so that tempo slowed without England having the choice.

The stats they were showing during the match indicated that we were getting the ball out of the ruck significantly quicker than the scots

Exactly, significantly quicker. Its just JVP was either knocking it on or box kicking it 20m too far....

JvP really struggled with his decision making from the base.

He really didn't.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:50 pm

My take on England, don't think much is terribly controversial.  Have to keep in mind a lot of the England issues were down to Scotland imposing themselves effectively at times.  


Freddie StewardKind of a quiet game, if possible at 15, no probs
Max MalinsCan't defend, should be dropped
Joe MarchantAnother centre outside Farrell and another mediocre performance from the player in 13, surprised?
Owen Farrell4 tackles, 3 missed.  No decent runs from 12 and limited attack out of 12.  Kicking will come back. Mediocre.
Ollie Hassell-CollinsInvisible.  Inconsequential. Ireelevent.  Made good yards, but didn't seem overly involved, even for a wing.
Marcus SmithHard to call.  Certainly wanted to do more, and the better attacks ran through him, but...
Jack van PoortvlietDecent performance, but did significant nothing to ignite the attack, but that could be the players around him.  Gets a pass for the day.
Ellis GengeGot into the game after a bit and was good
Jamie GeorgeGot into the game after a bit and was good, looked gassed in the last 15 minutes
Kyle SincklerMixed bag, but looked like he might be on the right track which England need
Maro ItojeDecent-ish, but seemed out of sorts,  looks like a weekend off would help him
Ollie ChessumVery good/excellent performance, especially so for a realtive newby.  Great potential.  
Lewis LudlamExcelent all-action performance 
Ben CurryPoor, another showing like this and should be dropped, will probably be given a chance to right himself against Italy
Alex DombrandtVery up-and-down; for a while I thought he might be playing himself out of the squad,  then he shows flashes, must be on the hairy edge.  Needs to play better.
REPLACEMENTS
Jack Walkern/a
Mako VunipolaHe helped earn a scrummage penalty!!! Probably one his better performances, maybe a bench spot is his role now?
Dan ColeAdded solidity to the scrum, and possibly maturity to the team; after a while it hurt me to watch him run (well, jog)
Nick IsiekweNo real impact either in the pluis column or the negative column, did his grunt work properly
Ben EarlSeemed to add energy to the proceedings, maybe next game is Curry out and Earl in?  
Ben YoungsKind of the opposite of Earl, sapped energy and slowed the proceedings, England need another option.
Ollie LawrencePutting Lawrence on after 75 minutes was a waste, he needs game time
Anthony WatsonAlso not enough game time

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 12:59 pm

Yep pretty fair there dr.
Smith I thought was pretty good overall and showed some good attacking intent at times. Great kick for Malins try.
All the hype over OHC and a really damp squib.
Earl, Lawrence need more time on pitch for sure. Youngs needs to sail into sunset.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:05 pm

He's a funny one OHC....I don't think anything about him screams out international class. Even in the Prem, he's nothing past an above average winger really. How has he ended up starting???

When the team was names, I didn't even register his inclusion tbh. You could say he offered a similar effect on the pitch....

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Post by cb Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:08 pm

Disappointed with the result but Scotland were the better team.  Many of the England players have never had extended run Marchant, Dombrandt, Curry, Mallins, JVP, etc. so a bit harsh to drop anyone on just one game.  Most players probably need a few games to reach the required level.

Admittedly Ludlam and Chessum both played well with limited experience.

The match indicates that England are not currently a good team and there is no overnight fix.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:11 pm

And Malins on the wing.....why??? Just why???

I was watching him in a little space yesterday with his normal cutting back in act as he can't go outside....just wondering what Radwan could do with ball like that. For all Radwan gets knocked in defence (he can struggle with front up against bigger guys), he is electric in attack and would have give us some real go forward.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:12 pm

You see, I disagree on Smith. I don't think he was awful, but not sure he was particularly good either. Yes, nice kick for Malins's first try, although he had a lot of space to work with and still nearly put too much on it. Needs to ditch the silly hitch-kick IMO, and avoid running straight into touch five meters from the opposition try-line. For me at this stage of his career (a dozen caps or so?) I'd expect him to be bedded into international rugby a bit more. Weirdly I actually thought Farrell had a decent game individually (kicking aside), but that midfield axis just doesn't work, so as part of the collective Farrell was indeed mediocre (if that makes sense).

I would add that Steward got side-stepped a bit too easily for the VDM (1) and White tries. Not easy positions to defend in, but I can't help but think that if that happened to say Hogg there would be a lot more talk about defensive frailties.

Dombrandt I think showed enough positives just about to earn another chance. He runs good lines, and carries hard when he doesn't drop the ball. The dropped restart just after Genge's try was criminal though, and let Scotland right back in the game (at that point England had just scored 15 unanswered points either side of half-time). The question is whether you think you can keep Dombrandt's positives and eliminate those errors. If so, then he's worth persevering with. Probably not that many alternatives anyway.

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:23 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:And Malins on the wing.....why??? Just why???

I was watching him in a little space yesterday with his normal cutting back in act as he can't go outside....just wondering what Radwan could do with ball like that. For all Radwan gets knocked in defence (he can struggle with front up against bigger guys), he is electric in attack and would have give us some real go forward.

Yep, I've long been a fan of player like Radwan or Arundel. Someone with that point of difference. Defence might be an issue but England hardly excelled there yesterday anyway. I think its tough on Malins if he does get dropped, scored 2 good tries and took his first really well. Dunno, maybe for Italy put him at 15 with Steward bench to cover wing/15 and see how it goes? Steward for me nailed on 15 but against Italy can afford some experimentation at least.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:23 pm

When Isiekwe came on Ludlum moved to Number 8. He does play there at Saints semi-regularly. But then again Saints play him at 6, 7, 8 so he is good across the back row. Is decent in the line-out, but not a lock hybrid like Isiekwe or.......Ted Hill.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:39 pm



Ruby Analyst review. He reckons Itoje was blowing after sixty minutes, and needed to come off. However, Curry and Dombrandt had been substituted beforehand, so there was no-one left on the bench.

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Post by mountain man Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:42 pm

Itoje nowhere near player he was 2 years ago. I say rest him, maybe bench for Italy and try Chessum/Ribbans in 2nd row.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 05 Feb 2023, 1:49 pm

This guy lost me when he said he thought Malins was good. But I agree about Itoje, he looked winded later in the game as well. Rest him against Italy, or at least have him on the bench. I doubt Borthwick planned to remove Itoje unless he lost a leg during the game.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:05 pm

doctor_grey wrote:This guy lost me when he said he thought Malins was good.  But I agree about Itoje, he looked winded later in the game as well.  Rest him against Italy, or at least have him on the bench.  I doubt Borthwick planned to remove Itoje unless he lost a leg during the game.  

Malins was solid at the back, kicked well and got into position to score twice. He was never going to be the Radwan or Murley style option that people on here seem to want. He wasn't supposed to be though, Borthwick built a tactical game plan that was based on our kicking game which worked really well and Malins was useful for that.

We repeatedly isolated Hogg and forced him to chase his own kicks leaving winger or Russell in the back field who were easy to pressure into kicks to touch for big territorial games. A key part to us winning that battle was us having three back three players who all were solid under the high ball and who could all return kicks with interest. Add Smith to that and we outnumbered Scotland in terms of kickers and had good success.

Stupid mistakes and a shoddy midfield defence let us down with Scotland's more composed attack taking gleeful advantage.

If Borthwick want to use the same kicking plan Vs Italy, which should work well, then keeping Malins in the back three with Steward makes a lot of sense.

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Post by George Carlin Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:12 pm

Given that most people agree this axis doesn't work, the really interesting thing is the apparent lack of consensus amongst England fans about whether Farrell or Smith should make way for the other.

Farrell is 31 now, so presumably if the RWC was behind us rather than ahead of us, the position would be simple - play Smith and build the backline around his talents. As England cannot and should not take a flyer on the World Cup, why not just play Farrell at 10 until that tournament is over, send Farrell out to pasture and then move to Smith? That would make the most sense. Certainly continuing with this experiment pleases nobody and has simply not resulted in the team winning.
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Post by TJ Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:13 pm

England deffo won the kicking battle and got the territory on the back of that

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Post by George Carlin Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:16 pm

TJ wrote:England deffo won the kicking battle and got the territory on the back of that
Without question England won the kicking battle and that should be a real point of focus for Borthwick. They pushed Russell into a number of mistakes, albeit not fatal ones this time around.
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Post by Geordie Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:19 pm

I cant see the defence being as bad this weekend...

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Post by lostinwales Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:44 pm

George Carlin wrote:Given that most people agree this axis doesn't work, the really interesting thing is the apparent lack of consensus amongst England fans about whether Farrell or Smith should make way for the other.

Farrell is 31 now, so presumably if the RWC was behind us rather than ahead of us, the position would be simple - play Smith and build the backline around his talents. As England cannot and should not take a flyer on the World Cup, why not just play Farrell at 10 until that tournament is over, send Farrell out to pasture and then move to Smith? That would make the most sense. Certainly continuing with this experiment pleases nobody and has simply not resulted in the team winning.

He might be better at 10. Things might be better with a proper centre pairing as we are always in a situation where the guy at 13 has a ton of work to do but never gets a pass. But for all Smith's faults - the occasional naivety and the powder puff defense, all the actual threat we have at the moment starts with him. He does pose a real danger, and you can see the defense pause to wonder what he's going to do next. Unfortunately sometimes his teammates seem equally confused...

Farrell just comes across as too conservative. I really believe he casts too long a shadow over the team

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Post by lostinwales Sun 05 Feb 2023, 6:49 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
doctor_grey wrote:This guy lost me when he said he thought Malins was good.  But I agree about Itoje, he looked winded later in the game as well.  Rest him against Italy, or at least have him on the bench.  I doubt Borthwick planned to remove Itoje unless he lost a leg during the game.  

Malins was solid at the back, kicked well and got into position to score twice. He was never going to be the Radwan or Murley style option that people on here seem to want. He wasn't supposed to be though, Borthwick built a tactical game plan that was based on our kicking game which worked really well and Malins was useful for that.

We repeatedly isolated Hogg and forced him to chase his own kicks leaving winger or Russell in the back field who were easy to pressure into kicks to touch for big territorial games. A key part to us winning that battle was us having three back three players who all were solid under the high ball and who could all return kicks with interest. Add Smith to that and we outnumbered Scotland in terms of kickers and had good success.

Stupid mistakes and a shoddy midfield defence let us down with Scotland's more composed attack taking gleeful advantage.

If Borthwick want to use the same kicking plan Vs Italy, which should work well, then keeping Malins in the back three with Steward makes a lot of sense.

Malins is clever. He's reasonably quick, has a decent kicking game but he comes across as weak. His defense isn't all that, and if he hasn't got space to run in he has neither the quick feet or the power to cause problems for stronger defenses. He's the type of guy who can play exceptionally well against weaker teams and poor against good ones. I think his versatility makes him a useful sub, but he really isn't what we need starting an international.

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Post by TJ Sun 05 Feb 2023, 7:49 pm

George Carlin wrote:
TJ wrote:England deffo won the kicking battle and got the territory on the back of that
Without question England won the kicking battle and that should be a real point of focus for Borthwick. They pushed Russell into a number of mistakes, albeit not fatal ones this time around.

they went after Russell - a challenge he relishes because it creates space elsewhere if you do not retreat deep hence the holes in the midfield defense for Huwpoloto to exploit

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Post by king_carlos Sun 05 Feb 2023, 11:07 pm

Geordie wrote:I cant see the defence being as bad this weekend...
When back rows are missing tackles and midfield alignment is weak you'll never have a strong defence. Without a doubt the most frustrating part of that game. I championed Marchant early on but he once again didn't look an international. I've been a vocal Burry fan but that was a poor debut, sadly.
George Carlin wrote:Given that most people agree this axis doesn't work, the really interesting thing is the apparent lack of consensus amongst England fans about whether Farrell or Smith should make way for the other.

Farrell is 31 now, so presumably if the RWC was behind us rather than ahead of us, the position would be simple - play Smith and build the backline around his talents. As England cannot and should not take a flyer on the World Cup, why not just play Farrell at 10 until that tournament is over, send Farrell out to pasture and then move to Smith? That would make the most sense. Certainly continuing with this experiment pleases nobody and has simply not resulted in the team winning.
Had Kelly and Slade not got injured we may well not have seen the Smith-Farrell axis. It's felt like a few years of "if x, y or z were fit" as an England fan though. Add Lawes and Tom Curry to the back row or Slade at 13, I really doubt the defense is that poor. Even Cowan-Dickie in the second half for instance when George was clearly burst. It's frustrating seeing basics be so poor with a few absentees though.

On his Sarries form at 10 I still think Farrell is England's best all-round 10. If Kelly and Slade remain injured then the centres are still a question mark. Lawrence at 12 in Kelly's absence for me. I honestly still feel that Jonathan Joseph was dumped too early by England. I'd still consider him our second best defensive centre after Slade and he links with his wings well.

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Post by George Carlin Mon 06 Feb 2023, 6:16 am

I feel that, whilst understandable, Eddie wasted a staggering amount of time praying for Tualagi to be fit again and some of his selections just seemed to be holding pattern whilst he waited.

A lot of England fans I know believed that constant chopping and changing effectively betrayed the fact that there was no systematic plan for the backline to attack. Nick Evans is very talented but he needs to displace that presumption now.

Maybe that's unfair.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 06 Feb 2023, 6:59 am

George Carlin wrote:I feel that, whilst understandable, Eddie wasted a staggering amount of time praying for Tualagi to be fit again and some of his selections just seemed to be holding pattern whilst he waited.

A lot of England fans I know believed that constant chopping and changing effectively betrayed the fact that there was no systematic plan for the backline to attack. Nick Evans is very talented but he needs to displace that presumption now.

Maybe that's unfair.

And then Borthwick had him fit and didn't play him. Chopping and changing isn't a brilliant way to build understanding and partnerships but Where's the line vs poor performance. Can Borthwick realistically ignore Tuilagi, Lawrence, Kelly of back. URGHHH, even Slade to plug a defensive gap.

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Post by Rugby Fan Mon 06 Feb 2023, 8:35 am

George Carlin wrote:I feel that, whilst understandable, Eddie wasted a staggering amount of time praying for Tualagi to be fit again and some of his selections just seemed to be holding pattern whilst he waited.
That's certainly a common view, though it's not really accurate. Tuilagi hardly played for Jones in his first four years, and our most consistent success came with Ford, Farrell and Joseph. That was a relatively lightweight midfield, balanced by a solid pack, with a world class carrier in Billy Vunipola. Mike Brown could also be relied on to carry well into a tackle when he was covering at the back.

As we got closer to the 2019 World Cup, Billy Vunipola was a less effective ball carrier, Brown fell out of favour, so Tuilagi's late availability was a real bonus.

After that World Cup, Vunipola continued to be off the pace, and Tuilagi fell into his usual injury lay-off cycle. Joe Cokanasiga, another potential ball carrier, was also injured, so much of what Jones did was to work out a playing style less reliant on that kind of threat, which saw us kicking all the time. Jones wasn't really waiting on Tuilagi any more than he was waiting for an in-form Billy Vunipola. If one or either was available, he was happy to use them.

The common view seems to be, because Jones didn't give more time to Lawrence, Odogwu, Atkinson, Northmore, Kelly etc that he was just waiting on Tuilagi. That's too big an unknowable for Jones to rely on, so I think there are two other likelier options. Either Jones concluded that none of the other centres looked better than the consistently fit options he already had (centred on Farrell, Slade, Marchant and Daly). Or else he placed greater value on his abillity to pull pieces together at short notice, for a World Cup.

Jones probably would have loved Borthwick's position of being parachuted in, with hardly any time left on the clock. Of course, he's got that now with Australia. As a consequence of the way the RFU drew up his contract renewal, Jones never had eyes for anything other than the World Cup, and it's quite possible he was prepared to go into the tournament with relatively untried combinations. After all, Curry and Underhill didn't pair up for the first time until the World Cup warm-up game against Ireland.

In some ways, the Australia job might suit Jones better. He's got a short term target of trying to win the Bledisloe, followed by a World Cup, and then a Lions tour less than two years later.

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Post by George Carlin Mon 06 Feb 2023, 11:50 am

All jobs are easier if you bosses have low expectations of you. Very Happy
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