A full review of England's final 2015 World Cup pool game, against Uruguay
Nick Easter and Jack Nowell both scored hat-tricks as England ended their World Cup campaign with a big win over Uruguay at Manchester City Stadium. They scored ten tries in all as the decision to field more playmakers in their back-line brought more creativity to their game, Henry Slade standing out particularly. Still, there is no escaping how disappointing this campaign has been for the World Cup hosts as their involvement in the tournament is now over.
Due North – Given the fact this was a dead rubber it was quite a turnout, with more than 50,000 people at Manchester City Stadium. The crowd weren’t always loud; in fact, the ground was often quieter than we’ve heard it at any game of RWC 2015, but fair play to them for turning up and enjoying the occasion.
So how about playing a few more fixtures in the North of England? We all know that Tests at Twickenham generate lots of cash for the RFU but spreading the game throughout England is surely just as important as money. Why not stage one autumn Test in Manchester or Leeds or Newcastle ever year?
Spirit of adventure – It was refreshing to see England play with such abandon in attack, spinning the ball wide, running inside lines, putting in deft kicks. Obviously there was none of the pressure of their previous pool games, given that their hopes of making the last eight ended against Australia, but Henry Slade’s distribution and the liveliness of Jack Nowell definitely stood out. Jonathan Joseph also made an impact when he came on. It must be said, however, that there needs to be a balance between being creative and being pragmatic – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Yes, there was nothing riding on this game, but some of the quick lineouts and risky passes were unnecessary. Looking after the ball and more of a calm approach were called for at times.
Uruguayan passion – The non-playing members of Uruguay’s squad were sat in front of the press box and it’s fair to say they relished every decision or piece of play that was in their side’s favour. Up on their feet, arms in air, loud cheers. Uruguay deserved praise for their resistance and it was good to see a team celebrating the small victories in a game – one can only imagine the scenes had los Teros managed to score a try!
The breakdown – Yet again England were heavily penalised at the contact area and Uruguay won more turnovers than them (nine to eight). It’s been a theme of their World Cup, but against a largely amateur team like Uruguay they should dominate the contest, particularly given the size differential. There are clearly fundamental flaws to their strategy and technique at the breakdown. Whether this coaching team remains or a new one comes in, this is the area that needs the most attention.
Neck roll – Since the first game of this World Cup, the neck roll has been high on referees’ agenda, so why are players still doing it? They knew before the tournament that officials had been told to look out for the offence. A bit of common sense would see players avoid going anywhere near an opponent’s neck when trying to clear them from a ruck.
Chatter – More than once referee Chris Pollock had a word with England players for appealing for decisions during the game. One, this is unnecessary – play to the whistle. Two, another directive to referees is to clamp down on players other than the captain continually speaking to them. What were we saying about common sense? Less talk, more action.
12 – The number of clean breaks made by England compared to two by Uruguay.
122 – The number of metres made by Jack Nowell, nearly twice as many as next best Danny Care (68).
143 – The number of tackles made by Uruguay compared to 66 by England, and they missed 33.
England: A Goode; A Watson (M Brown 67), H Slade, O Farrell (J Joseph 59), J Nowell; G Ford, D Care (R Wigglesworth 72); M Vunipola (J Marler 72), T Youngs (J George 30), D Cole (D Wilson 43), J Launchbury, G Parling (G Kruis 56), J Haskell (T Wood 61), C Robshaw (capt), N Easter.
Tries (10): Watson 2, Easter 3, Slade, Nowell 3, penalty. Cons: Farrell 4, Ford.
Uruguay: G Mieres; S Gibernau, J Prada, A Vilaseca, R Silva; F Berchesi (M Blengio 73), A Ormaechea (A Duran 73); M Sanguinetti (A Corral 63), C Arboleya, M Sagario (N Klappenbach 63), S Vilaseca (capt), J Zerbino (M Palomeque 63), JM Gaminara, M Beer (D Magno 69), A Nieto (A Alonso 69).
Yellow card: S Vilaseca (40).
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Man of the Match: Nick Easter