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The recent developments in England indicate that Borthwick still has a long journey ahead in their ambitious rebuilding plan, according to sports journalist Andy Bull.
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The recent developments in England indicate that Borthwick still has a long journey ahead in their ambitious rebuilding plan, according to sports journalist Andy Bull.

The weather forecast predicted rain on Saturday during the game. The two coaches monitored the weather closely all week and Warren Gatland had to cancel Wales’ outdoor training due to poor conditions leading up to the game. They adjusted their plans accordingly. The 80,000 spectators also prepared for a wet and cold day, bringing boots, coats, hats, and umbrellas. However, they were pleasantly surprised when February’s first sunny afternoon arrived instead. The game turned out to be a fast-paced and intense match.

The event began during a magnificent sunset, with the west side of the old venue glowing a bright pink. For a brief period, it seemed like a positive sign. “Red sky at night, Gatland’s delight.”

He had previously stated that the Welsh team was not intimidated by the idea of playing here, and his team proved to be just as capable. Despite Wales dominating Twickenham for an hour, England narrowly secured a victory. However, it must be acknowledged that this game was their most uncertain since their previous game, where they were defeated by Fiji with an eight point margin in August. It has been a lengthy six months since then, during which they have managed to achieve seven wins out of eight away games in Marseille, Nice, Lille, Paris, and Rome. The only loss they suffered was against South Africa in the World Cup semi-final, with a score of 16-15.

The recent successes were achieved through a simplified and practical approach to playing that was suitable for the situation and the limited time that head coach Steve Borthwick had to work with. With the tournament over, Borthwick is now aiming to create a more ambitious team. While this is a positive move, it was evident from their performance that they still have a ways to go before reaching perfection. It is said that a long journey begins with a single step, but one has to wonder if that step is meant to be taken backwards.

Alex Mann scores a try for WalesView image in fullscreen

England’s recently implemented aggressive defensive strategy, led by their new coach Felix Jones, is causing some difficulties in adjustment. Jones, who came from South Africa during the winter, stated in the official match program that the main goal of most defenses is to put pressure on their opponents’ abilities. However, England seemed to be allowing Wales to showcase their skills instead.

Watching the event reminded me of a fire brigade attempting to extinguish a fire by taking turns to rush up and smother it with a wet washcloth. The defenders would quickly charge up from the line, but frequently the Welsh team would pass the ball on and the next player in line would take advantage of the gap left by the defender. In the first two games of this championship, England has allowed more tries than they did in all four games during the World Cup pool stages.

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Despite facing adversity, they displayed resilience. This was evident in the first half when, despite having two players in the sin-bin, they were able to score off an attacking scrum. Ollie Chessum was penalized for a high tackle on Keiron Assiratti, and five minutes later Ethan Roots joined him after collapsing a maul which led to Wales’ first try. Despite being down to seven players, including Tommy Freeman, they held their ground long enough for Ben Earl to score a try.

Unfortunately, George Ford was unable to successfully complete his conversion. As he moved slightly to the left, the Welsh defense quickly reacted and kicked the ball away from his tee. This moment epitomized their performance – determined and hardworking, but lacking in creativity. However, their effort proved to be sufficient as England made a comeback in the second half and ultimately scored through Fraser Dingwall after spreading the ball wide.

In addition to a few penalties, it was sufficient to secure them a narrow two-point win. The close margin made for an exciting game. It is also accurate to say that England had the support of the crowd. The atmosphere at the stadium was the best it had been in a while, and the fans sang continuously. However, it is clear that England must improve quickly if they hope to defeat any of the three teams ahead of them in the championship.

Source: theguardian.com