Six Nations: Wales vs England Analysis

Wales were squarely beaten Friday night, second best in every facet of the game in a dreadful second half. There were precious few positives for Wales, on a disappointing Friday night in Cardiff. England dominated the game in the second period and Wales struggled to get any ball and go forward.

Six Nations: Wales vs England Analysis

The midfield battle was set be an area Wales could dominate but Jamie Roberts and Jon Davies were given precious little opportunities to run with ball in hand.

George North and Alex Cuthbert were equally quiet and when he did carry at George Ford, Cuthbert knocked lost the ball forward.

The Welsh pack did not get parity at the scrum and was consistently on the back foot and guilty of being inaccurate at the lineout. Wales struggled to get a foothold in the game in the second half and England took their chances well.

There were positives for Wales, albeit very few. Taulupe Faletau was outstanding in a losing cause and his work for Rhys Webb’s opening try was fantastic. Although digging into the scrum as he did was a touch the wrong side of the law, the power to salvage a retreating scrum and draw three defenders as well as offload to Webb was mightily impressive.

Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar also performed admirably and kicked fairly well and we both excellent under the high ball.

It is important to stress that this was not the fault of the game plan. Welsh fans like to criticise Warren Gatland’s game plan as ‘one-dimensional’ and ‘predictable’. However, the defeat was a failure in performance not a failure in game plan.

When Wales did execute their patterns, they threatened, Jamie Roberts did crash over Ford as expected but not often enough. There have been rumours, including an interview with James Haskell on Talksport, that Wales are focussed on fitness in this year’s Six Nations. This is a trait of ‘Warren-Ball’ and gym sessions were certainly put ahead of rugby sessions in the autumn.

This could be the reason for the sudden drop of in intensity in the second half, if so Warren Gatland is playing a risky game putting all his eggs in a World Cup shaped basket.

From here Wales can only improve, but don’t anticipate many changes. It will be a tough training week but the usual game plan will be implemented against the Scots. Wales will struggle to win the title from this starting position but they do have the chance to salvage pride and build momentum as we head towards the World Cup.

However, there are several easier places to go than Murrayfield to face a resurgent Scotland, Wales will need to be far, far better.

 

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