Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Reflections On The Game Against France

Like Arsenal, England possess the ability to play off form and still get the result. Wales could have been 17-3 up at half time had Robert Jones kicked as he did against New Zealand. He missed, and the Wilkinson boot, after an early failure, slowly ground Wales down.

England will be worried by the 3-1 try count to Wales. It was only a couple of months ago that an England second fifteen cruised past Wales by a four-try margin. NZ put 8 tries past the Welsh just the week before.

Nonetheless I still take England to beat France. The French backs are exciting as ever, yet England will face no better handling and running than resulted in Robert Jones' try, created by Shane Williams' great run and pass. The forward battle will be hard, but there's no danger of England being surprised by that. In recent years their dominance over Wales has been such that they were genuinely surprised, not by the Welsh fire, but by their ability to sustain it beyond the first fifteen minutes.

But as long as Wilkinson is upright and unclogged England will be my favourites to win. By his standards he had a poor game on Sunday. Would that Wales had such a poor player - 23 points on an off-day.

"Whatever happens, we have got
Jon Wilkinson, and they have not"

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