The match at Twickenham on Saturday between England and Australia may have been low in quality, but it was certainly high in talking points. Here are a few to argue over, add to or perhaps even agree with – Surely not. We would love your feedback though.
1. The outcome of the match was decided by the decisions of the officials. The failure of the touch judge to spot Mike Brown’s foot in touch led to a series of ‘unfortunate events’ from an Australian point of view. Brown countered superbly and Scott Fardy was injured in trying to tackle him; Israel Folau was turned over for a penalty; Chris Ashton tapped quickly and passed the ball forward, again not given; Adam Ashley-Cooper was hurt covering across; and finally Will Genia, who might have been better shielded if Fardy was still on the pitch, was charged down for the try. All of which prompts this question. Let’s not blame the touch judge, who was partially sighted, but rather ask should the coach of either side be allowed one review? If Ewen McKenzie had asked for a review here, Australia would have had a 5 metre attacking lineout with every chance of adding to their seven point lead and no one could quibble.
2. The second England try was another curious one. I have no sympathy for the Aussies here, who brought organised obstruction into the game. But what a strange use of language by referee George Clancy. The fact is Dylan Hartley, who was not stationary, got in the way of Stephen Moore. You see this time and time again. Canterbury’s number 10 did it the other week, opening the way for Osborne to score in the final of the ITM. I would like the law to put an onus on the player who is beyond the ball to get out of the way of prospective defenders. They try hard enough if there is a risk of their own player running into them. But Clancy ruled, “From what I have seen there isn’t enough obstruction there to disallow the try.” The TMO agreed “completely.” So what is enough? We are in the realms of, “he didn’t stab him hard enough to constitute murder.” It’s all rather unsatisfactory.
3. The midfields. Australia at last seem to be finding a midfield, a problem they have not solved since Stirling Mortlock retired. The combination of Toomua and Kuridrani has enough pace, wit and biff about it to stand up in defence and attack. The same could not be said for England. This is the big area they have to solve before the World Cup. Poor Billy Twelvetrees had a shocker on Saturday. The worry is that his game went from bad to worse, suggesting he lacked the mental sang froid to turn it around on the pitch. Clear heads win big games, so Twelvetrees’ performance was a worry.
4. Mike Brown and Tom Wood showed again why they were both unlucky to miss out on Lions selection. At some stage it would be good to know the reasons behind their omission.
5. Both teams had different types of problem at scrum-half. Lee Dickson was poor. He took a step towards his fly-half far too often before passing. This was not a step that held the defence by threatening the run, it was just a delay. Ask yourself whether the All Blacks would rather face Dickson or Ben Youngs and the choice is evident. Will Genia’s problems stem from the professional age. The bloke has just played too much rugby. He needs a rest. He played injured in the Lions series and has never got his mojo back. He has rarely been rested even for the last 10 minutes of games by the Reds or Australia. Genia needs to get his fizz back. He needs his love of the game. He needs to clear his head. At his best, he is up there with Fourie du Preez as the best in the world.
6. Youngs or Hartley. It’s a tough call, but Youngs’ throwing in is a slight concern. The problem on Saturday was not that he missed his man, but that he didn’t work out that there was no need to. Why go for the perfect throw to the absolute apex of the jump when Australia were not competing that hard at times. A much more conservative throw would have got the job done. Why didn’t England work this out. They can still be a bit dull at times on the pitch, and that can hurt in big games.
What did you see as the big talking points from the match at Twickenham? Comments below…