Over 24 hours post England v Australia, the pain does not lessen for anyone connected to the English team, whether players, management or supporters. Australia out played us on Saturday, with a 1st half that left England playing catch up. Then a 2nd half rally kept the dream alive, as the score was reduced to a 7 point deficit. The duo of Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson continued to show how they can create opportunities within confined spaces.
The 1st half performance was based on their speed of ball. They moved it at pace not allowing the English defence to settle or get any dominant hits in. The Australian scrum was able to get the shunt, resulting in multiple penalties. A critical blow on the scoreboard, and more importantly, a psychological one - it allowed Australia to attack on the front foot. Bernard Foley pulled the strings from No.10 , capped with the killer 2nd try, taking his personal tally in the match to 28 points. Wales and Australia must now slug it out to see who tops the group and have the perceived easier half of the knock out draw. Good luck to both teams.
Saturday sees England’s last match against Uruguay in Manchester. It now becomes the road to Tokyo. Let’s give those players that we believe will be key performers in 2019 an opportunity to start this process. Henry Slade and Jamie George would be examples of guys that have not had a chance so far but will be key in 4 years’ time.
What happens now? The Debate
Sunday saw much debate on the fall out following England’s early exit from the tournament. How the team move forward was debated in length and the individual outcomes were varied, but the dust needs to settle before a measured review is conducted.
The support at all matches has been incredible and the quality of rugby remains high. Japan continue to capture the imagination of the public with another great victory over Samoa. Watching Georgia hold New Zealand for long periods was heartwarming for the development of the global game - the look of shock and appreciation of Georgia’s captain, Mamuka Gorgodze, receiving the man of the match award was a joy in its own right.