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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Toby Flood steers England to victory over Wales in championship opener

Toby Flood steers England to victory over Wales in championship opener

In a physical contest that lived up to the pre-match hype, Martin Johnsons England side got their 2011 campaign off to the best of starts with a hard fought 26-19 RBS 6 Nations win over Wales.

With all the mud-slinging that has been going on this week, this volatile fixture was charged from the start, with plenty of hand-bags being thrown between the two-sides; especially from Paul James and Dan Cole in the front-row.

The heat of the 'Dragons Den' clearly got to a red-faced Andy Powell - who saw the shepherds crook on the 30 minute mark after conceding a soft penalty; Welsh coach Warren Gatland turning to Ospreys Captain Ryan Jones to provide a calming head to procedures.

But it was Englands young guns who came too the fore once again; with Foden, Youngs and Ashton masterfully steered by man-of-the-match Toby Flood.

The Tigers fly-half was faultless from hand and from the boot, and was provider for Ashtons first score - spotting a mismatch in midfield, drifting into the space and offloading to the supporting Ashton who tempted fate with an outrageous swallow-dive.

Ashton grabbed his brace early on in the second-half before Wales staged a fight-back with a scything break from Jonathan Davies leading to a score for winger Morgan Stoddart.

Yet as Johnson made a raft of changes, amongst which was the in-form Jonny Wilkinson, England snuffed out the dying embers of the Dragons attack, and a late Wilkinson penalty duly hammered the knock-out blow to Wales' hope of a win.

After the game, England manager Martin Johnson was optimistic that his team can build upon this win: "Next week we can say actually, we can play loads better than this and not give teams the chance to get out of jail.

"But we need to enjoy this win. We will hand out the rollockings on Monday. We made little mistakes, some of our own making, in the first half and gave them chances. We need to turn the screw there."

Wales Coach Warren Gatland was positive despite seeing his side slip to an eighth consecutive defeat: "I was pleased with how we soaked up a lot of pressure. In the final analysis there wasn't much between the teams.

"I thought at times we were fantastic, and we played a good off-loading game and caused England problems. I don't think England will go through this competition unbeaten, so if we can win the next two games, hopefully that puts us back into contention for the championship."


Time: 04:47
Credit: BBC

Posted at 12:30 pm | 38 comments

Viewing 38 comments

David February 05, 2011 12:13 pm

England were the better team, i take nothing away from them, does anyone else feel that no matter how many good things lee byrne does in a game, at a crucial moment he always messes up and puts the pressure on us. Also so many of our kicks just never found touch, i mean WTF. Gats had been talking all week about how dangerous the england back three are.. it really annoys me!

(also hell of a collision between jones and foden at the start, that got me going!)

haha

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 12:19 pm

did anyone else feel like throwing the telly out the window because of brian moore what a muppet that guy ruins the game for me every time. hope someone else buys the tv rights so i dont have to listen to this t**t anymore
far from clinical but well played england

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Colombes February 05, 2011 12:53 pm

I think England was the better team.

They were not impressive but very clinical, they transform their opportunities when they can. Good to see flood, youngs or ashton trying to change english game.
In an other hand, wales had a lot of willing but as usual too messy. the pack was inexistant.

ps: not fan of "insane" dives

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charlie frost February 05, 2011 12:58 pm

whats with Wales and tripping??

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Flipje February 05, 2011 1:03 pm

England did the job and were the better team. Solid performance for a first game. T. Wood was pretty good.

Still, on the few occasions Wales had a decent attacking opportunity down the line they tended too often to kick the ball rather than keeping it in their hands..... quite frustrating to be honest.

R. Jones made a great impact for the Welsh as Powell was all over the place,,and cost quite a lot of points.

Also, Hook was a class act. Personally I did not understand why Gatling waited so long to get L. Byrne in and move Hook as Fly half. I liked S. Jones but it may be time to see something else....

Would be difficult to stop England this year.....

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Flipje February 05, 2011 1:08 pm

@ Colombes

Agree with you.....not a great fan also of Asthon celebration try.

I can understand if this is a last minute try winner but after 14 minutes....

Still a great player but....

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 1:15 pm

england have no centres

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wow-jiffy-lube February 05, 2011 1:31 pm

Pretty boring match with some good moments. Not such a fan of Ashton or his hype. Both his tries last night were walk-ins with others doing the work. Flood was very good though. Quiet game for Foden.

When Wales' backs strung a few passes together they looked really dangerous but unfortunately that was all too rare.

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Guy February 05, 2011 1:42 pm

Entertaining game. Not perfect, from neither side, but still exciting till the last minute.
And Jonny tackled like a flanker last 14 minutes. Still love seeing him on the pitch, although i do agree by playing Flood as a way to prepare him for the WC and the future after that.

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 1:55 pm

Palmer put in a big hit towards the end of the game but I can't remember who on. Any chance of seeing it?

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themull February 05, 2011 1:56 pm

Great to see Johnny tackling like his old self again....Even though Flood played so well I still consider Johnny to be the greatest FH to ever play the game...Nobody since or before could tackle and kick and run like he did...Plus no other, not even the great Dan Carter, has ever done what he did during the World Cup 2003, ie basically win a world cup single handedly

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red February 05, 2011 2:05 pm

What did Toby Flood do that Wilkinson couldn't have?

I'm a bit biased though, because I'd like to see Wilko stay in the lead for most international points scored...but there's no denying that he's in top form this year and Johnson couldn't seem to care less.

I would've liked to see Wales win it, but then again, they didn't really deserve it.

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 2:11 pm

I'm Welsh I and actually enjoy Brian Moore's commentary. He is not bs and calls it like he sees it and is impartial.

I think some posters dislike of Moore is probably a visceral reaction to dislike of him from his playing days when he was a wind up merchant and everyone who was not English could not stand him.

Bottom line he has played at the top of the game for many years with England and the Lions, and he knows his stuff. He has also got a few brain cells as he is a lawyer.

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red February 05, 2011 2:13 pm

Also, Gatland is a dick for playing Hook at fullback. If you're not going to involve James Hook in running angles and breaking the line like he's good at, then what's the point of having him on the field? I guess with Lee Byrne looking duller and duller every game, there's not much of an alternative...

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 2:15 pm

"did anyone else feel like throwing the telly out the window because of brian moore what a muppet that guy ruins the game for me every time. hope someone else buys the tv rights so i dont have to listen to this t**t anymore
far from clinical but well played england"

Really? I think he's the only honest commentator left. The rest of them seem too concerned that they might be upsetting someone, causing them to go into an internet rampage because the commentator dares disagree with their opinions.

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 4:31 pm

Ashton: Stop doing that silly showboating dive...one day you will drop the ball!

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(u-p)rick February 05, 2011 4:54 pm

Actually in this game I found Brian Moores commentary to be not that bad.... Quite different from his usual gibberish, ofcourse some of it crept back in... Had to agree with his 'one day he'll drop one of those' comments about ashtons celebration... I am neutral when it comes to these games however I think I was looking to see England play quite well as recently they have been plain embarrassing to watch. However I'd have love to see someone get the better of Dylan Hartley, that guy needs to be sat down hard in a match!! I was impressed by flood though, I never really rated him especially with the likes of wilkinson who is still bouncing around (anyone else hear MJ talking about not bringing in guys from overseas clubs?!?! Where did that go?) but he did play well!

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bullshit February 05, 2011 7:08 pm

Shit game
Shit ref
Shit result

How many times did dylan hartley pop up in the scrum and the ref completely ignore it? Utter bullshit, oh and andy powell was a fucking joke.

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BlahBlah February 05, 2011 8:04 pm

Sick of Ashton... clearly loves himself too much.

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Fred, Right February 05, 2011 8:11 pm

BlahBlah:

He's accomplished quite a lot, though, hasn't he?

(I do agree though, he seems like a bit of a douche)

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 8:33 pm

From a Welshman..

Congratulations to England, definitely the better team. Was a pretty poor game in my opinion but the banter was great.

Fed up of Gatland seeing 'positives.' There are pretty much only negatives here.. A team like the one yesterday, although missing a few players and with a few not on form (Jones), should still be putting in better performances. It was still a really close game though.. if we took the 6 points we wouldn't have been looking for the try.. Same old too little too late, but well done to England.

Looks like France/England to be the decider, and I fear for Wales next week after the Scot's awesome performance tonight.

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Anonymous February 05, 2011 8:34 pm

^ Just realised the ambiguous nature of my previous comment about Jones not being on form.. Could be half the squad!

Steven Jones i meant of course.

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H February 05, 2011 9:11 pm

Someone said Ashton's tries were easy.. tries are tries non the less. One of the best supporting players in england thats why he has such a great scoring record and is one of the first wingers england's had in a while that scores.

I thought it was a good game, compared to most of the dribble boring games that comes out of the 6 nations.

As of late I think England have lost that forwards dominated slow ball game that plagued them for a while. Such a good thing to see, throwing the ball around straight from the kick off.

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chalkolatte February 05, 2011 9:26 pm

englands change in strategy that started in the autumn tests have been great, actually enjoying watching them play now. I was expecting them to kick for touch the first possession off the kickoff but was pleasantly surprised by their counter attack from their end of the half.

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chalkolatte February 05, 2011 9:35 pm

oh and also, andy powell is an absolute retard.

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John F February 06, 2011 1:35 am

Brian Moore doesn't understand what a commentator's job is though.

It's like he's giving a commentary on the ref's performance. Utterly tedious even if he is being 'honest'.

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Anonymous February 06, 2011 11:37 am

Cant wait for the SUPER 15!!!!!!!
Crusaders!!! Lets make the damn Blue Bulls pay for last year!!!!

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Nick February 06, 2011 12:22 pm

Swan Dive!

For all the complaints about Brian Moore, remember the next 3 matches will be commentated by Stuart Barnes!

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Anonymous February 06, 2011 12:25 pm

James Hook is above criticism these days I see.

He has been poor all season in every position he has played. You can't blame every coach for his poor play and decision making.

The only thing James Hook creates is pressure on Wales and try scoring opportunities for the opposition.

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Anonymous February 06, 2011 12:31 pm

Barnes won't be commentating, BBC have got Englands home games

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martin-offload February 06, 2011 10:06 pm

Firstly Flood is a better than Wilkinson at utilizing the players around him and making space for others. Wilkinson is one of the all time greats and still a top player, but with the players England have they need someone who can run an attack and Wilkinson isn't a natural at that. Secondly fullback is one of the best places to run lines from as you can join the line where ever you want. Byrne and AAC are to great exponents of this

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martin-offload February 06, 2011 10:08 pm

Oh and I think the Palmer tackle was on Lydiate?

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Anonymous February 06, 2011 10:22 pm

They didn't show the trip then?

The trip that was "no way near as bad at normal speed". . . . .

An ok game well done England. Seemed they looked in control for a lot of the game.

Lets hope the French get a kicking next week.

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Anonymous February 06, 2011 11:51 pm

'Anonymous said...
^ Just realised the ambiguous nature of my previous comment about Jones not being on form.. Could be half the squad!

Steven Jones i meant of course.'

LOL!!!!

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(u-p)rick February 06, 2011 11:59 pm

p.s John F,

Brian Moore isnt so much the commentator as the sort of 'side kick'

Eddie Butler is really the 'Game commentator' and Brian Moore is more of a 'real time analyst'

...i.e. Eddie Butler says 'and flood gets the ball and switches with Grewcock, who chips the ball forward for big Maaartin Johnson to run on to, he gathers the ball and offloads to fred who is a greedy little prick and doesnt offload in the tackle, gets pinged for holding on and marched back 10'

....at which point brian moore comes in and says 'if Fred had looked around him he would have seen robinson charging up on his left who would have been through for the try, instead he had his head down and lost the ball...like a plank...he needs a gay slap'

or something along those lines....

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Andy M February 07, 2011 9:31 am

For anyone who had watched the welsh programme Scrum V when they stated that Ben Youngs must be half welsh to be playing so well....well doesn't that seem like total crap now!!!! England were the better team, Mike Phillips was dreadful, Ryan Jones was brilliant - better than Powell and our scrum was infinitely better. Good game, the big brother did give the little brother a slap!!! I really hope that the welsh players who speared Toby Flood get cited and face a ban for several matches etc.
Swing low sweet chariot.

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Paolo February 07, 2011 11:28 am

Well that was interesting

I really couldn't call this game at the start and thought it could go either way

However, the English pack were dominant despite the best efforts of Warburton and Davies, the English half-backs utterly outplayed the Welsh, the Welsh centres (assumed to be head and shoulders above the english before hand) were held well in check by a not particularly good Tindall and Hape and the English back 3 looked far more solid and able than the Welsh

Where to for the Welsh now? think they desperately need to get their house in order before the Scots game. If they lose that, then it could be the wooden spoon for them. Put Hook at inside centre (Jamie Roberts is well of the pace), replace Andy Powell, Peel to start, dump Morgan Stoddart and Lee Byrne and they might start to get somewhere

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Tom February 08, 2011 2:46 am

Moore is an absolute muppet.
He's a bad commentator, half the time he doesn't know wtf he's goin on about, he just says these really opininated, sweeping statements, and then gets proven wrong constantly on the field.

Oh and Wales are not impressive these days. They try to play with width but seem to lack the skills.

England, well you never really write them off, but they weren't spectacular either.

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