Wales 21-13 England – Humbled By The Welsh
What was a pretty decent first half by England, the half time lead was merited for sure. After securing bonus point wins against France and Ireland, the expectation was this would be yet another England win on the way to a Grand Slam season.
Well, the wheels came off that plan in Cardiff. Despite England going in a half time leading, the second half belonged to Wales. Their record-breaking 12th consecutive Test win, came about as they humbled England. I’m not sure what Eddie Jones said or did in the half time team talk, but the players who came back out for the second 40 minutes looked bereft of ideas. What had worked the previous 2 matches wasn’t put into play in this fixture.
England had led 10-3 as the whistle sounded for the half time interval after 20-year-old Tom Curry scored his first touchdown in the six nations for his country. This young man is maturing as each game comes and goes, his awareness and positioning combining with the hits he makes on opposing players means he’s someone with a long international career in front of him for sure. This was a very much deserved try and he was my name to be Man Of The Match sheet.
Winding Up The Opposition
Wales decided to target Kyle Sinckler and it worked! He’d already caused controversy in the French fixture, by slapping France’s Arthur Iturria on the head during play. This incident happened shortly after being spoken to by referee Nigel Ownes in the previous scrum shortly before this act of petulance occurred. This is a guy who has been banned before for dangerous tackles, for eye gouging and is a ferocious tackler despite his faults in crossing the line.
Against Wales, he led the tackle count with 20 tackles made by half time, and he was on a roll. He’d made his presence felt with the tackles but also taking the ball into contact making hard yards. It is possibly his actions in the French game that inspired the Welsh to wind him up on the pitch in the second half.
Wales said before the match that while they felt Kyle Sinckler “struggled to contain his emotions in the heat of the battle, they had no intention of lighting his fuse”. So when he gave away a penalty on the 55th minute for a shoulder charge on Gareth Anscombe, which was pulled up by the TMO it was the first sign of him ‘losing it’. A couple of minutes later another penalty conceded for a UFC type choke hold around the neck of Alun Wyn Jones. Jones managed to flail his arm and raise his voice enough to get the referees attention though. Resulting in the final warning from Jaco Peyper handed out to Sinckler, the die was cast and Harry Williams was warming up while Sinckler was still being spoken to by the referee.
Welsh Secret Weapon
The combination of Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards has turned around Welsh rugby. After the dismal Gareth Jenkins results of 20 games played, Won 6, Drew 1, Lost 13 led to his sacking, it was time for fresh blood and this came in the shape of Gatland.
Warren Gatland who came to the attention of the British rugby fans as Wasps and then Ireland coach, is now touted as the replacement for Eddie Jones in the England role. His name has also been thrown about to manage the Lions 2021 tour too. As great as either or both these positions would be for English supports, the big question would be if he’d bring with him the former rugby league dynamo Shaun Edwards?
Shaun Edwards joined the Welsh coaching staff as the assistant coach (defence) on 14 January 2008. He made an instant impact as Wales conceded just two tries in 400 minutes going on to winning the 2008 RBS 6 Nations Championship and Grand Slam.
Another point to note, looking at Welsh records, during the 2013/2014 RBS 6 Nations, a new defence record by not conceding a try for 400 minutes, as set by the team under his coaching.