England have been properly crushed in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup and it was solely their obduracy, or Scotland’s imprecision, that stored the score-line to a, superficially, respectable 11– 6 loss.
Give full credit score to Gregor Townsend’s workforce for a disciplined, high-tempo efficiency that compelled England into error, indiscipline and left them bereft of concepts. This Scotland facet can go greater, supplied they’ll persistently convert extra of their point-scoring alternatives.
For Eddie Jones, it was one other efficiency that mirrored these he witnessed in 2018, when England had appeared to have run out of concepts and appeared unable to adapt. England climbed out of that trough and Jones should once more change their trajectory … and shortly.
The next factors aren’t excuses, however they’re related to any sincere analysis of England’s defeat and a few of their latest below- par performances.
It’s now obvious that some gamers, particularly among the Saracens’ contingent, are off the tempo of the sport. Nevertheless, what would have been stated if England had misplaced on this method and Jones had not picked, say, Jamie George, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola?
The actual fact is that with out three of their 4 first- selection props, Mako Vunipola, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler, England didn’t have enough energy in depth. Ellis Genge, Harry Williams and Will Stuart cope as particular person replacements, however the pairings from this trio weren’t efficient on Saturday, both within the set- piece or as ball carriers.
The scrum generally was a large number – however England suffered essentially the most. With out that dependable platform it was much more vital that their line-out was pristine, nevertheless it was additionally sub-optimal. Important throws have been misplaced on the few events England compelled their method into the Scottish 22, some ball was scrappy, and England by no means severely threatened Scotland’s throws.
Coming second finest in each set- items created the additional downside that Scotland performed a lot of the recreation on the entrance foot and gained the breakdown battle. When poor first- part ball results in static, or retreating, second-phase ball, choices are severely circumscribed.
Even the alternatives England made have been compromised by Scottish stress. They misplaced the aerial contest as a result of they typically kicked badly below stress and couldn’t organise their chase successfully.
They didn’t carry successfully as a result of they didn’t have the proper firepower they usually typically needed to carry off gradual or stationary ball. The aggregation of all these elements meant that England have been plunged into severe turmoil.
If you end up in hassle, self-discipline is key. In retreat, you concede penalties as marginal selections often go to the attacking workforce. What you need to not do is exacerbate this by conceding avoidable penalties. For those who do, you don’t relieve stress and also you undermine makes an attempt to realize territory or create impetus. Few shut video games can be gained with a penalty depend of 15 -6 towards you.
England’s kicking recreation was, once more, sub-standard. I’ve acknowledged repeatedly that there may be nothing flawed with it, so long as it’s executed correctly. The elusive Plan B is mostly a query of kickers having the honesty to confess they don’t seem to be kicking properly and initiating a change in technique.
England should additionally perceive that in a recreation the place you’re on the flawed finish of a 35-65 per cent possession stat, you can not count on to realize momentum if you happen to frequently kick away possession. You may transfer downfield, however that’s of restricted worth if you happen to can not efficiently put stress in your opponent’s’ set- piece and their exit drills. Additional, if you happen to lose the kick- against- kick battle and your opponent make successive internet positive factors, you need to adapt.