15 Sep

Bulldog Eaten by Lion
by Paul Waite
15 Sep 2007

That is probably the worst performance I’ve seen from the English in
the last two decades. They were like a toothless, arthritic old bulldog, stolidly defending it’s territory with nothing but ugliness left to fight with. Against them, the Boks looked like a huge lion, prowling the field with impunity, and tearing off lumps of flesh when it pleased.

This English team was utterly bereft of any collective creative spark, Jason Robinson’s lone-star
performance being the only bright point. They bumbled and stumbled
through this test as if they were each auditioning for a starring role as
The Mummy and can consider themselves bloody lucky to get nil.

South Africa were not a surprise. The package they bring to the game is
well known, and they executed it to perfection. They remain a big threat
in this World Cup to everybody.

Having said that, the English played the perfect support role to the Springboks, setting them up beautifully with their turgid, predictable attack.

Apart from the brilliant solo performance from Jason Robinson, the most
interesting part of this game was the way the English played in the
final 10-15 minutes. The "nil" on the scoreboard must have been searing
itself deep into their brains, like a hot knife, by this point and it
goaded them into a kind of "hyper-drive" (for the English rugby team at
least) where they launched everything at South Africa to force an
opening, and the try that might bring them a smidgen of solace.

But it was awful to watch. Rather like watching a dog walking on its hind
legs, it appeared to be very much an unnatural act, and one you knew was doomed to end unhappily, and too soon. Although it represented an increase in pace by at least
10-fold over the prior 70 minutes, it still looked so slow and
predictable. It’s plain that English minds just can’t think in "rugby"
that fast.

So the final 10-15 minutes ended up being a kind of headless chook routine, so
much so that it was almost embarassing to watch, like watching a
handicapped person struggling mightily to achieve something a normal one can do
quite easily. The inclination was to avert the eyes, and leave them to
labour at it in private.

You have to wonder where Ashton and his squad go from here. There were so many basic
flaws in their game. Ball-carriers in the forwards flopping to ground
too easily and quickly, lack of support in general (exacerbated by the
former issue), awful passing skills, poor kicking from hand (who
convinced Ashton that RL convert Farrell was a test No.10??), a
talentless midfield, poorly executed lineout options, seemingly no
coherent gameplan whatsoever, no set-piece moves, the list goes on.

More than can be explained by saying they are still just getting into
the World Cup. There was seemingly no improvement from the awful game against the USA last week.

And it puts those French victories in the warm-ups into
stark perspective, bearing in mind the French loss to Argentina.

Here’s hoping that Michael Jones’ Samoa can put together a great
performance against them, and grab a win. I’d love to see England not
making the quarters.

On this abysmal performance they certainly don’t deserve to.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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