SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Domination from start to finish for England

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: It was domination from start to finish for Eddie Jones’ England against Ireland… their defence was brilliant and not for a minute did I think they would lose on Saturday at Twickenham

  • England’s defence was physical but they still controlled most of the contest 
  • Eddie Jones’ side contained Ireland with ease and walked away with a good win 
  • Maro Itoje was the man-of-the match but many would have picked Jonny May
  • Ireland need to go back to basics after an afternoon to forget at the lineout 

Rugby throws up some funny old stats and when you read that England made 246 tackles to Ireland’s 73, you would assume Eddie Jones’ team spent the afternoon mounting an heroic backs to the wall effort to claim the win.

Now England’s defence was mostly brilliant and very physical, no question, but for me England controlled the contest virtually from start to finish. Not for a minute did I think they would lose.

England had Ireland where they wanted them most of the game and save for the one moment of Irish invention at the end for Jacob Stockdale’s try, they contained the Irish with ease.

Ireland had more possession in the second-half but England’s defence was mostly brilliant

England had Ireland where they wanted them for most of the game at Twickenham on Saturday

England’s one disappointment will be that they couldn’t mount more of an offensive threat but unlike the other two games so far this autumn — Italy and Georgia — this was all about getting the job done and walking away with a good win. 

You don’t mess around with a team like Ireland — take liberties and they will bite back.

What set the game alight of course was Jonny May’s brace of tries in the first half which demonstrated yet again what an attacking force he is.

That’s 31 now in 59 Tests and it is just conceivable that given luck with injuries he could threaten Rory Underwood’s record of 49.

He is not just quick, balanced and a little eccentric in his running lines but he is a natural scorer which needs to be emphasised. Not all backs are. He has great spatial awareness and always knows exactly where the try line is and what is needed to touch down.

Jonny May is a natural try-scorer and always knows exactly what is needed to touch down

His second try was an absolute beauty, one of the very best we have seen at Twickenham in a long time and a passage of play that will be replayed many times.

A few years ago May was a maverick talent with moments of brilliance countered by headless chicken moments but in recent seasons he has eradicated the crazy stuff and what you get is a succession of top-class memorable plays, in attack and defence. 

A few minutes after scoring that great try it was May who tracked back and pulled off a vital tackle on Keith Earls to prevent an Ireland try. I suspect that will have given him nearly as much pleasure as his tries. Nearly!

Maro Itoje was the official MoM and the Saracens man definitely won his mano a mano with James Ryan on the afternoon, but May would have been the call for many of us armchair viewers.

Maro Itoje was the official man-of-the-match and definitely won his duel with James Ryan 

After that England imposed a stranglehold on the game by their remorseless swarming defence. In many ways it was very Saracens of old, just not allowing the opposition to make any headway despite plentiful possession. 

There was an impressive edge to England’s tackling but they should make note of that late Ireland try. A better team than Ireland on the day would have unleashed that chip through, or a grubber, much more often. 

The way England set up defensively they are very vulnerable to that kind of well worked move, the sort France are currently pulling off at will.

Ireland endured a woeful afternoon at the lineout – Andy Farrell’s side must go back to basics

Finally the other takeaway yesterday is that you will never beat this England if your lineout isn’t operating. Ireland endured a woeful afternoon at the lineout and it cost them dear. 

When it starts badly go back to basics. Bog standard safe ball thrown to your number two jumper is perfectly acceptable and trumps an ambitious long ball going wrong every time. 

Go back to basics. Get them right and then start getting more ambitious again.

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