Wales v England: Where the game was won and lost

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It was carnage in Cardiff, as a rampant Wales tore England to shreds leaving their Grand Slam and championship ambitions in tatters in the process. English hope gave way to desperate despair as the home team, galvanised by their superbly vociferous fans in the cauldron-like Millenium stadium, simply blew their great rivals away. The roof may have been on, but it felt like it could have been blown off at any moment. Here are a couple of the key areas in the game.

The scrum

So often these days this is one the main talking points. Usually it is an area of controversy and while there were a couple of questionable calls from referee Steve Walsh, Wales did comfortably have the upper hand.

England loose-head prop Joe Marler was subbed after 45 minutes, as damning an indictment as is possible of what was an atrocious afternoon for him. His front-row colleagues, Leicester duo Dan Cole and Tom Youngs, didn't do much better as they bore the brunt of the Welsh power and were shoved back time and again.

However, the fault cannot lie solely with them. Whilst they are on the front-line, the scrums are not about front-row against front-row but pack against pack. In this regard, England looked light. Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury are superb scrappers in the loose, and possess more athleticism than many a back-row forward, but they do not form the most physically imposing second row partnership in the world.

Coupled with the three sixes picked in the back row (Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood), England lacked ballast. Ben Morgan's drive from the back of the scrum and ability to make the hard yards in the loose was severely missed - as good a player as Tom Wood is, he is not capable of this in the same way that Morgan is. More power was needed - without it the England front row didn't stand a chance.

The breakdown

England's decision to play three blindside flankers spectacularly backfired as the Welsh duo of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric reigned supreme. While the Croft-Robshaw-Wood triumvirate is perfectly mobile, it does not have a player whose trade is the breakdown. The Welsh pairing was infinitely superior, and with two players who have excellent ball-gathering technique it meant there was someone at pretty much every contact area who could compete for the ball.

Against New Zealand in the autumn England hit the rucks with such ferocity that it didn't matter that they didn't have a 'genuine seven'. Up against one of the best in that mould, Richie McCaw, they were so aggressive that he didn't have the chance to have an influence on the game. On Saturday, however, England didn't commit enough numbers to the breakdown and Warburton and Tipuric were allowed free reign to pilfer and pillage until their hearts were content.


The Welsh just seem to up their game for the English. They had been on an upward curve since that dreadful opening half an hour against the Irish, but nobody - not even the most one-eyed of Welshmen - saw this margin of victory coming.

Wales were passionate, powerful and predatory - when their opportunities came they took them. It was quite a spectacle, and a healthy ending to what had been a sub-par few weeks of Six Nations action. That will all be forgotten, though, in the wake of one of the most spectacular and scintillating victories international rugby has seen for quite some time.

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