Monday, 7 February 2011

England Ease to Victory In Cardiff

A brace of tries from Chris Ashton gave England a perfect start to their six nations campaign, beating Wales 23-16 in Cardiff.

Toby Flood broke through a huge gap in the Welsh defence, before popping the ball to Chris Ashton to dive heroically over the line. As Wales went a man down when Craig Mitchell was sin binned, England increased their lead as they took advantage of the man advantage when a simple break allowed Chris Ashton to cross the line again. Wales fought back with a converted try by Morgan Stoggart, however a converted penalty kick by Jonny Wilkinson (right) meant that the least the Welsh could get out of the game was a draw. England held on to win at the Millennium stadium for the first time since 2003.

It wasn't the most comprehensive win by no means, nor was it England's best performance in a six nations match. However their were several positives to take away from the match. To win in Cardiff for the first time in eight years is a notable achievement, especially with the amount of expectation that rode on England's shoulders. England's attack, for the most part, was neat and tidy. Scrum Half Ben Youngs controlled the rucks perfectly and set up some great opportunities when releasing the ball from the ruck. The set pieces worked perfectly for England today, as they dominated the line out completely. Number two Dylan Hartley provided excellent service from the line out, as Wales were poor when it came to set pieces. Toby Flood kicked thirteen crucial points, finally proving that he can step out of Jonny Wilkinson's shadow and step up to the plate. Number eight Nick Easter was inspirational, as he was in total control of the England scrummage. 

Can we win the six nations? We have a great chance, however we all know that our main rivals this year will be France. Scotland were completely outplayed at the Stade De France, whilst France were showing the rest of the world their credentials. The next three games are going to be must win ones as they are all at Twickenham. If we can improve on the Welsh performance, then we'll be huge contenders for the six nations crown. Roll on Twickenham this Saturday, where England will face Italy.  

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