Everything You Wanted To Know About Wales’ Season + probably a few things you didn’t – Part 2

_65776472_013114734-1Resident BTL Welsh Tragic yosoy rounds the turn for home in the Rowntree Saturday Night Rugby-Related Forensic Examination Stakes:

The same team that beat France was named to play in Rome a fortnight later – the fit-again Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones having to be content with a place on the bench.

aaa

“Antonio, see how easily I turned the Welsh colours into Gli Azzurri’s colours with some mozzarella di bufala and basilico? That’s what we’re going do to ’em at Stadio Olimpico!”

The match against Italy was a continuation of the France one. The scrum began to look in shape for the first time in the competition: Adam Jones and Hibbard gave Lo Cicero and Ghiraldini a torrid time allowing Gethin Jenkins to get up to all kinds of mischief against Castrogiovanni.

xxx

“Gennaro, you’re full of shit.”

Again, this wasn’t eye-catching stuff, but Wales were getting into good field positions thanks to the forwards’ hard work and Biggar’s increasingly confident kicking from hand. Not pretty, but an effective, professional job.

Next, Scotland posed a challenge coming off a couple of wins. Warburton was recalled in place of Tipuric with the intention to attack the breakdown – an area in which the Scots hadn’t been putting many bodies.

Once more, this was a low-risk, pedestrian showing. If the wins in Paris and Rome were “ones for the purist”, this was one for … well, nobody, really. Two coaching patterns based on stifling the other out of existence, an incredibly pedantic turn by referee Craig Joubert that saw a world record for penalty kicks at goal, and Wales home 28-18 with even some ardent fans dozing off.

xxx

“Eh. Holy Father. Wake up. Your boys won 28-18.”

So, after an opening to the tournament that was as hapless as possible, Wales had done enough to be in a position to be challenging for the title in the final round in Cardiff.

England came into it unbeaten in five, but without impressing as much as they had in their autumn series win over New Zealand. Forced into a change at blindside flanker, due to stand-in skipper Jones’ injury, Howley opted for the long-desired-by-the-fans duo of Warburton and Tipuric.

Expecting a similar, slightly more restrictive gameplan to what we’d seen since the Ireland defeat, what transpired was eye-opening. The Welsh scrum was getting on top and winning penalties and free kicks, but it was the pace the team was playing at – the way they were hitting rucks and throwing themselves into tackles – that set it apart from what we’d seen in much of the five years this coaching group had been in charge.

"Did you see Wales' first half against England? I told Benedict to give them time. Nope. 'Life's too short', he said, 'I'm outa here'."

“Did you see Wales’ first half against England? I told Benedict to give them time. Nope. ‘Life’s too short’, he said, ‘I’m outa here’.”

The second half was, if anything, even better for the Welsh team and fans alike. From the 47th to the 50th minute Wales camped in the English 22 and sent up a lone runner at a time, getting no more than a centimetre closer each time, each attack repelled by some excellent defence. Finally, an English player wandered offside leaving Halfpenny to add the penalty kick to take them more than a score clear. For me, it was that three-minute period where the match was won.

Until then, England had seemingly contained Wales, but when the super-fit pair of Wood and Robshaw both fell off tackles during the three minutes –

I fell

“Please, Sir, I fell off a tackle, can we have that one again?”

– it was beginning to become obvious that Wales’ edge in the physical exchanges during the first half were beginning to take their toll.

They became Six Nations champions in consecutive years for the first time since 1979.

The biggest turnaround was the defence. From conceding 17 tries during the 8-match losing streak to not conceding since the 43rd minute of the Six Nations opener was what won them the title. There are other factors, of course, but any successful Test match nation does so off the back of their defence. That’s where it starts.

For Welsh fans now, the expectancy after the England performance will be to match that level. As an absolute minimum. In European terms, Wales have no reason to fear anybody; in global terms they still have much to prove against the southern hempisphere big three. There remains much to work on, much to improve, but they have shown that when they get it right, they’re a pretty good international team.

xxx

“Howley, Holy Father. Rob Howley. Saint Robert of Bridgend. Do it for Benedict.”

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393 Responses to Everything You Wanted To Know About Wales’ Season + probably a few things you didn’t – Part 2

  1. killerline says:

    No sects as yet. The thing’s too lazy man.

  2. What about your little jaunt to the big city? There was a decent mix there, no?

  3. Or not drink with now I suppose. I should say I am impressed with your resolve. Looking at the bottles I need to take out to the recycling, I feel I should make a similar effort, but don’t have the will power.

  4. killerline says:

    That was socializing.

  5. killerline says:

    @FD

    Ha the technician that looks after the cleanroom is a mate of mine. He assumed I was joking until we went to the pub Monday and I had tomato juice.
    He was ‘inspired’ too and said he’d join the quest.

    Problem is he went to the pub this lunchtime and the barkeep said “Hello mate, beer?”

    “What was I supposed to say?”, he asked me, “no thanks?”.

    I guess he managed a day and a half…

  6. You would have to be serious to drink tomato juice. Gross.

  7. killerline says:

    I’m a serious man, in the body of a jazz-talking robot.

  8. elsnoopio says:

    I like tomato juice.
    It is great with some Worcester sauce, Tabasco and vodka.

  9. laraxwell says:

    I’m curious what you’re like in person

  10. laraxwell says:

    I agree with snoop

  11. snakkbar says:

    @elsnoopio

    tis great if you add a little black pepper and top it off with guinness

  12. laraxwell says:

    The curious remark relates to the middle class robot

  13. Emergent service worker robot.

  14. MisterIks says:

    Talking about sects and bicycles…

    Here in blydi Heidelberg the cyclists are flying everywhere. They own the town and by Christ the arrogant pedlars know it. Can’t bear the twats, but this may be influenced by my own ineptitude on a bike, as I did try in those halcyon days when you first arrive in your new love’s home town to join in, accident by accident.

    My balanced conclusion is that if Dave from Swindon needed to get from A to B, he would go by bike.

  15. killerline says:

    Brave entrance Iks.

    I respect that.

    @Lara I’ve already disappointed several on here who were expecting Megatron in a rugby shirt.
    Don’t be the next disappointed customer!
    I’m just a bloke from Hulltronica.

  16. snakkbar says:

    Dave from Swindon pisses people off with various modes of transport.

  17. killerline says:

    I imagine DFS having a boy racer-ish company car.

    A twatish status symbol that’s not fancy enough to get keyed on a rough street.

    You know like a top of the range Focus/Civic/Mondeo.

    Actually it’d defo be TDi. A brand new Golf?

  18. MisterIks says:

    It might be a brand new Golf, but there’d be a fold-up bicycle in the boot, although the front basket would have to be transported on the back seat.

  19. MisterIks says:

    I know I’m Sagging behind, but has that sodding Jib-o-Meter emerged from under our overlord’s crimson fez yet?

  20. yosoy says:

    I imagine DFS having a boy racer-ish company car.

    He used to get a lift to work and the bus home.

    He did talk about motorbikes once but I told him to fuck off as I couldn’t hear myself read the weather on the BBC website.

  21. No. I imagine he has over estimated the value of this knowledge and is trying to make it proprietary before releasing the results. I don’t expect we will see under the hood of the jib-o-meter.

  22. snakkbar says:

    a fold-up bike works, preferably a brompton.

  23. MisterIks says:

    He used to get a lift to work and the bus home.

    Seems I’ve been throwing stones in glass houses again. *Sighs*

  24. killerline says:

    @FD

    You’ve demonstrated a few times you’re a dangerous man when the inner workings of a questionable scientific piece are published.

    The jib-o-meter will be a magic box that spits out a number.

  25. yosoy says:

    I should stop shattering everyone’s image of DfS. He did wear quite nice shoes.

    Of course I told them that they were shit.

  26. MisterIks says:

    @Killer I need to retire and the airing cupboard is a-beckoning. Is Porce-Cat the jealous type? I have enough on my plate and could do without a demented deity crawling twixt the wool and linen, bent on retribution.

  27. MisterIks says:

    @yosoy – I suppose talking directly to DfS’s shoes was aimed at cutting out the boring middle-man?

  28. killerline says:

    @Iks

    it’s fine P-C is hovering outside the window and seems content enough…

  29. killerline says:

    Nice shoes, no car?

    Everything I thought I knew about DFS is crumbling.

  30. MisterIks says:

    Marvellous. The sleep of the innocent and secure beckons. Goodnight!

  31. Monnem says:

    @Misterilks

    Move to Monnem – they blydi hate bikes over here

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