Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The hangover from hell

Well, I am just about recovered from that hangover from hell that is an English victory in the millenium stadium. Made worse by the fact that I had to endure the stuffing with my English girlfriend.

The game started well and, even though we scored a try off the back of a retreating scrum, the first 10 minutes were pretty promising.

Most of the match was Englands, though. They were playing better rugby and it was only a matter of time before we went behind and I was hopeful that Halfpenny's boot would keep us in touch but it was not to be and in the end the English team deserved the victory.

They were well up for it and we can take a bit of pride away in the fact that they did not win by that much and failed to score any points during Alex Cuthberts sin binning.

So, we played terribly and England were far superior, with a higher possession percentage but they only won by 5 points. Who knows what would have happened if we we firing on all cylinders.

I would have changed  few things if I was Gatland. Liam Williams should have stayed on when he replced North or should have at least replaced Cuthbert. His 10 minute spell performance was the best out of the whole team and he looked most dangerous. Gatlan needs to realise that the biggest players are not necessarily the best and that players who search for gaps instead of collisions are more likely to go through.

Who knows, maybe the main problem is Gatland's training regime, that is supposed to get the players peaking during the world cup. If this is the case and we win the world cup, then a poor six nations is not going to really bother me.

If Gatland is focusing on the RWC then he should be using some more fringe players.

I would include Liam Williams and Hallam Amos and the expense of Cuthert and North. Move Halfpenny to the wing? Probably, maybe it would force him to run more. With these three in the back we would have 3 players who are good at kicking and we need some good kicking because Biggar and Webb were kicking like donkeys. Biggar did have a big bandage on though and Webb was seriously under pressure.

For Scotland, this is my team:
Green = Same as EnglandRed = change. Blue = change of position
15. L.Williams Is on form and fierce at the moment. Played well for his 10 minute stint
14. L. Halfpenny Mr. reliable, another good player from Friday
13. S. Williams Another oon form player. Lets face it Davies was pretty annonymous Friday
12. J. Roberts Was quiet on friday but made several carries and tackled well, they need to bring him into the game more
11. H. Amos Has a spark that is missing, he had the Shane facotr and will run though holes, not through people and has the pace and form we need
10. D.Biggar was off game but i think he will bounce back
9. R.Webb also off form but has been playnig well and works well with Biggar
8. T. Falatau one of the few decent performances Friday
7. J.Tipuric Really replacing Lydiate, was an under par performance Friday and Tipuric needs more international game time
6. S. Warburton (c) It worked against England in 2013 and the two opensides would cause havoc at rucktime
5. L. Charteris Is impressive when fit and should help us in the line out, possible at scrum time too. I am torn between him and Jake Ball
4. AW. Jones Should really be the captain of the team and is always performing. a bit too annonymos last week though
3. S. Lee Give hiim more international game time, he is the future of the Welsh srum. Would have Adam Jones on the bench though
2. S. Baldwin Hibbard was poor and over threw when it mattered. Baldwin played against SA and the players who won that game should be rewarded
1. G.Jenkins Poor game Friday but that means he will play a blinder.

Standout player for Wales last week was Liam Williams, even though he only players 10 minutes.
Standout England player was J. Haskell, pretty ruthless in his ball carrying and ferocious in the takle.

No predictions for the Scotland game, partially because Gatland has yet to name his team and alsso because I probably jinxed the team last week, hoping for a big respnse though

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Six nations 2015

So it is soon upon us and only 2 days till Wales face England at the Millenium stadium.

Gatland has shown his cards early, some say he is playing mind games but this is a bold move and one that shows faith in his selection and is going to give England something to think about.

The Wales team to face England is:

Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
So it looks like a familiar squad. Most players are on form but Cuthbert and North really need to prove themselves and get some time with ball in hand. Liam Williams is probably unlucky to be on the bench having performed so well against south Africa and is currently playing well for the Scarlets, if he comes off the bench then he will get a rousing welcome and can be garenteed to put in some big tackles and will look to run with the ball in hand.

The England team to face Wales will be announced shortly today but I would imagine that we will see some new faces and combinations, due to injury and Lancaster must hope his team can gel before the match.

Because of home advantage, no injuries and familiarity in the Welsh squad, and disruption to the England team, through injury, I would expect a Welsh win. But anything can happen and the English side are still competitive, this just goes to show that they have strength in depth.