Care proves a pass master

STUART BARNES, writing in The Sunday Times of London, says England scrumhalf Danny Care set the tempo at Murrayfield with a constant stream of quick ball.

The former England flyhalf and Sky Sports commentator raved about Care's performance.

'Care is playing with complete confidence. His first-half performance in helping England establish a comfortable lead was a display dripping in self-belief. This has not always been the case with the Harlequins scrumhalf, for whom an occasional on-the-field cockiness has disguised a lack of game management.

'In Edinburgh the most impressive aspect of his game was not so much any one technical or tactical element but the swaggering self-assurance. While Owen Farrell was struggling to get a sitter of a missed penalty out of his system in an extremely erratic flyhalf display, his mate at scrumhalf was bouncing around, ushering his forwards here and there, not so much the servant of the pack as the Napoleonic general barking the orders.

'His sixth-minute drop goal was evidence of his confident mood. England had a penalty, but with Farrell having missed just a few minutes previously he took the responsibility of the “free shot” and dropped a goal, for the second match running. Given England’s propensity for slow-starting it was an ideal tonic.'

Barnes also referred to the big part Care played in the try that gave his side a comfortable lead.

'The forwards drove a close-range lineout that Scotland defended well. In past games England would have bashed their collective forward bonce upon the metaphorical defensive brick wall until the inevitable error, especially on this bog of a pitch.

'But Care was in charge and it was he, not the forwards, who dictated when and how the drive progressed. Instead of waiting for the pack to deliver possession as and when they were ready, Care demanded the ball. He faded flat and fast across the field with the speed to threaten and hold Scotland. Cutting his line at a right angle was Luther Burrell. England smashed their way over for another fine try, with Care epitomising England’s cutting edge.

Barnes said Care had played even better than he did last weekend, when England were unfortunate to lose to France.

'As in Paris, his bag of tricks was overflowing but one of the key basic elements of his game was much improved. The overlooked significance of the pass is one of the mysteries of the modern age. The fundamental job of the scrumhalf is to pass the ball. This is the umbilical between the pack and the backs, but for some reason most scrumhalves are poorer passers of a ball than the distant amateurs who spent hours on passing drills.

'Care has been part of the sloppy brigade in the past. Even in Paris a few loose passes, combined with a sequence of bad box-kicks, undermined the obvious and exceptional parts of his game. In Edinburgh his passing was almost immaculate. If the midfield made mistakes it was not because of Care’s distribution. The link was slick.'

Read the full column (PAYWALL)

Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP Photo

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Simon Borchardt