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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The agony and ecstasy

England won their opening game in the Nations Cup at around 1am (ie. a few minutes ago) but the real victors were the USA. In the lead until the dying final play of the game, the USA matched the England team all the way.

It was abundantly clear who had done their homework for this game - and it was not Gary Street. England came out and attempted to play their forward-based game that steamrollered them to yet another 6 Nations earlier in the year - and hit a brick wall. Indeed more than that - a brick wall that bit back.

Suddenly Plan A did not work - and the result was less than impressive as there did not seem to be much of a Plan B. Okay, in that opening period England were playing into an annoying breeze, but even so it took them well into the latter part of the first half before a weaving run from Nollie Waterman lead to a move that finally broke the deadlock, captain McLean touching down.

For a period the USA were rattled, but their nerve held - and a penalty near the end of the half saw them go in only 5-3 down. It was all on the half-time talks now, and the USA clearly won that battle as well, coming out with their tails up and going ahead with a try shortly after the restart.

After this it all gets a bit confusing as the video feed from Canada started to break down - possibly under the strain of some 500 or more viewers. An unseen England try put the favourites ahead, but that was soon followed by a penalty to the USA that took the score to 11-10... which is where it stayed for an agonising final period. Agonising for internet viewers as the feed struggled to cope with the strain, as well as the players. The USA won possession, but a lack of experience showed as they were unable to run the clock down - deciding to kick deep, and thus give away possession.

England roared back and with barely a minute on the clock England had a penalty by the far touchline. Katy opted for the kick... and missed. From the 22 USA regain possession, and again kicked... seconds too early. A line out from what was the final play of the game, the ball worked to the far side, and England ruck 5m out.... and the feed failed AGAIN!!

Five minutes of agony for those at home. Rumours of a USA win flooded the discussions, but nothing official from the ground. Breathless wait - then the score flashed up. USA 11, England 15. Somehow England had pulled the game around. Somehow.

So its a win, but not deserved. England were predictable, unimaginative, and just not up for the game. USA had clearly planned for this with precision, were totally up for it, knew England's moves better than many England players did and so nearly pulled off the shock of the decade.

The good news is that - at last - England have been put through the ringer. They need games like this, and will emerge a better team - we hope. They better had, as if the USA can do this to them heaven alone knows what the Black Ferns will do!

Earlier Canada beat South Africa 52-17. I think we know who will be in the final.


  1. Anonymous1:37 AM

    Of course it was a deserved win. They kept fighting til the end and won it in the death. Alot of Englands games are on tv so it makes it pretty easy for other teams coaches to analyze their plays, patterns, etc. Pretty stupid forwards display from england. They didn't tie the usas defenders in at the ruck and just kept firing hospital passes to their backs. gary street has shown himself to be a pretty ordinary coach over the last two seasons, would have liked a new one after the world cup.

  2. England are the more talented side, USA made more mistakes so, on that basis, England deserve to win? Maybe - depends on how you define "deserved". Who played out of their skins tonight? Who had the more ideas? Who were the most creative? Who wanted it most? Which team will look back on this with pride? Which coach will be praising his team most? Not England.

    Which team will have to do some serious rethinking? Which team will have to change what they do? Which team will be most disappointed with their performance? England.

    That is why I say they did not deserve the win. The difference in end was talent and experience. It got England home in the end... but only just. It should never have been that close

  3. Anonymous2:18 AM

    who scored that last gasp try?

  4. Anonymous4:10 PM



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