What did we learn from Eng v Ire?

Difficult to say just how much England or Ireland learned from that game without knowing the team’s relative workloads in preparation, how much the coach’s are willing to show their hands etc

Summary version: for those who do not like the flowery version:

Eng, Ire & Wal need to adapt to referees that do not suit their systems.

Daly poor missed tackle but excellent overall.

Youngs poor core skills but other parts of his game influential to England’s successful attacking shape.

2 lineout options can work.

Undercurry looked good for first time in combo and not the game to highlight the benefit.

LCD turning potential into performance.

Flowery version: for those with time on their hands.

One thing I haven’t seen anyone else mention yet is the impact of Owens. That’s the best he’s refereed England in a while. Said before the game he generally gives the attacking team opportunity to clear the jackal and he did that for the most part yesterday and that benefitted England. There was one where Henderson was awarded a pen which for me was the wrong way, later in the game LCD was correctly pinged in a similar situation. However that was the anomaly and no ref is going to get it right every time. Couldn’t hear his explanation for not referring the apparent forward pass at the club yesterday, but said he didn’t because for him it wasn’t clear and obvious. I’m fine with that in principle, but think most refs would have checked so there could be an issue with consistency and when a try is scored it could decide games in the future.

I think it highlights possible concerns for England, Wales and Ireland. England have struggled when the ref allows shenanigans at the breakdown, Wales and Ireland struggle when they do not. The interpretation of the referees does vary widely so all these teams will need to work out ways to win with refs who do not suit the way they play. Not as easy as it sounds.

England were offloading in contact a fair bit, that might be them trying one way to combat it, high risk and one for good conditions. Ireland remained fairly predictable, sticking to the script, without a man at 10 brave enough to break the system, as Sexton and Carbery might have the confidence to do, it was a bit too easy to defend.

Daly should have done better for the Aki try, have no issue with decision to go high as that is the best way to prevent the score, but he has to go low to high and that’s where the execution was poor. Makes those week in, week out for Wasps, so will need to reset after that one. Overall though he was excellent, counter attacked well, good decision making and execution ball in hand. Stepped into 10 channel more and it worked nicely. My preferred starting back 3 is Watson, Daly, May, with Coka on the bench.

Lots of criticism of Youngs, much of it fair in that his core skills let him down. The 24th minute is one to forget, pass along the floor cleared up by Kruis, then another to Manu, cleared up superbly (how did he break the gain line there?) and then the pass at Healy. A box kick straight out which is uncharacteristic. I do think there is much hyperbole here though as people do not like him and if this was a popular player these mountains would remain molehills. There is much more to scrum half play than the core skills. To have a good game you have to get them right, so he certainly wasn’t troubling the MotM trophy, but much of England’s fluidity came from his subtle manipulation of the breakdown fringes. His work off the scrum for the first try was great, he starts the wheels in motion by getting to Carty, then timing his pass nicely to Ford, from there the pieces fall into place. He hasn’t played much competitive rugby thus far so I can forgive ring rusty errors and take the positives, still the starter 9 for me. Heinz justifying his selection with another good performance and that combo looks good imho.

England’s lineout work was very good on own and oppo ball. Pleasantly surprised by that as only 2 specialist jumpers in the side. In contrast Best and Cronin will be upset with the execution of the lifters and also upset with themselves.

Undercurry – despite what the pundits say, it is not Pooper or Saveane who started this, in my memory it was Waugh and Smith? Can anyone else think of an earlier double 7 combo? Either way I think it worked reasonably well for a first time out. Wasn’t perfect I think both players individually perform better playing as a 7 with a Wilson/Shields/Lawes at 6, but collectively I think it could prove to be better. Owens the wrong ref yesterday to see the best of the combination probably, Gauzere/Farces will be better examples.

LCD finally turning potential into performance on Intl stage is great to see. Has had a shaky start to his intl career with the exemplary lineout work of Hartley in particular and George for the most part highlighting a weakness there. Looks like he’s benefitted from extra time with Kruis/Ewels etc in camp and his work outside the set piece has been very good.

Was great to see Mako and Wilson get on the field but just as disheartening to see Mako limp off shortly after. Hope his and the Irish boys’ (even Healy) injuries are not tournament ending. I think some question the necessity of these games and injuries picked up are certainly in the cons column. For me it’s more important to be battle hardened and ready, especially in a tough group like England have. They are a risk worth taking in my opinion and seems to be the conventional outlook from most intl teams. The danger is peaking too early and that is a concern.

Can Ireland turn it around and take on the Welsh next week as part of the building process, having England timed it wrong and are the Welsh going to open up some attacking patterns?

We will see! Fascinating warm-up season thus far though.

Apols for lack of Scots content, haven’t seen any of the games.