Reason for England optimism

Former England flyhalf STUART BARNES, writing in the London Sunday Times, says England should emerge a stronger side following their heartbreaking loss in Paris.

England fought back from 16-3 down after 22 minutes to lead 24-19 with two minutes to go, before France snatched victory with a converted try.

Barnes said France were fortunate to win and that England had reason for optimism despite the defeat.

'France are not the best and England did not beat them but for most of the second half they played the most intelligent and accurate attacking rugby we have see under Stuart Lancaster’s tenure,' wrote Barnes. 'Even in defeat, the manager admitted that the second half was right up there with the win over the All Blacks in 2012; not in terms of every fine detail, not in terms of making every right decision but in the ambition and quality of their offensive game. The try that Luther Burrell scored to give England the lead in the second half was a thing of beauty.

'Owen Farrell took the ball to the gainline. He took it to the area of a defence where one lapse and the ball carrier is through. Farrell showed the ball and France bought the dummy. Steaming up on his shoulder was Billy Vunipola on an angle full of threat. He carried a few opponents with him before another acute angle from debutant Luther Burrell had England celebrating, not just one of the best tries they have scored in years but one that could prove the key to their frustrated attacking ambitions.'

Barnes added that England need to improve their attack, and that this, apart from luck, was the difference between the two sides in Paris.

'Whereas England sought to keep the ball in hand the shape of the attacks were too obvious, the structure too wooden. When a team have too much attacking structure it enables a defence to build their own structure to counter it; with Yoann Huget turning up here, there and everywhere and Wesley Fofana trying to find space by aiming for weak areas of England defence, France were more threatening.'

Read the column on The Sunday Times website (PAYWALL)

Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP Photo

Post by

Simon Borchardt