France, the team that wants to win a World Cup to claim itself in the rugby aristocracy, signed this Saturday in Twickenham one of the most glorious afternoons in its history, at the height of the World Cup eliminations against the All Blacks. Not only did they win a Six Nations match in London 18 years later, but they endorsed England, a rivalry that transcends sport, the largest score (10-53) in a common history that dates back to 1906 and includes 110 official matches . After an ominous decade in which they fell 44-8 in the English capital in 2019, the XV del Gallo signed the great work of the brazen generation with which they intend to conquer the world in autumn. Seven trials for the worst defeat in the history of the XV de la Rosa in its cathedral.
Despite the equality of points with which both teams faced the appointment, England had an orphanage: their attack. The flat game that defeated Wales and Italy would not be worth against a superior opponent, something that Steve Borthwick admitted with his lineup, overwhelmed by the daunting challenge of building a team nine months before the World Cup. He retired his guide Owen Farrell – among the deputies eight years later – and gave the helm to Marcus Smith. He was looking for creativity from him, but found only anarchy.
The reasoning was to punish the game at the Gallic foot with counterattacks, a complete fiasco. France won the tournament last year kicking more than anyone else, the recipe to keep problems away, that of a team that doesn’t give away anything. When the rain rages, kicking is a relief, And bagging balls, a tedium. England came up against that wall, forced by a score against from the second minute, with a break from the beefy Flament that led to the test by Ramos, the defender who consolidated his status as the tournament’s top scorer, a symptom of the counterattacking power of the his.
It was the beginning of a full display of French virtues. Their forwards exhibited their seismic strength by gaining meters with the ball and they hid their shortcomings in the withdrawal. The conquest phase – keeping the ball after tackles – was a blue monologue. Ollivon and Alldritt wreaked havoc as their scrum-half, the genius Dupont, supplied balls at a devilish pace. And he gained meters with his clever kicks: the foot is not only used to defend. England looked back with her tongue hanging out, backing off the precipice. Thus came the marks of Flament, who culminated the stampede of the lead, and of Ollivon himself, riding with spaces and opening an already memorable wound at halftime (3-27).
It was a fateful afternoon for England, a repeat offender in mistakes, from the cascade of fouls when it was time to protect the ball to the soft hands of Watson or Smith to pocket air traffic. Steward, one of the few positive notes for the XV de la Rosa, closed the gap with a percussion at the beginning of the second act, but the comeback was an odyssey. Flament reminded him of it after hunting down a loose ball that was patted by an attentive Ntamack, like a basketball point guard who wins the rebound between centers. Thus came the fourth trial, the one that was worth the offensive bonus point that equals Ireland at the top of the table (15 points) and prevents the XV del Trébol from taking the tournament in Edinburgh this Sunday. The English patient was bleeding to death in the operating room and Penaud was writing down the last two essays before a silenced parish.
At the other end of the table, Wales took the duel between the two teams that did not know victory in Rome 17-29 and avoided the wooden spoon, the ‘punishment’ for losing all the games. The XV del Dragón was accurate in finishing and took advantage of the errors of an Italy that had more possession, but did not hit the key in the final meters.
Wales scored three tries in the first half hour, as many as in the previous three matches. The first arrived in a lucky boat that deposited the oval in the hands of Rio Dyer; the second was exchanged by Liam Williams after a lost possession by the locals in a compromised area and the third was ordered by the referee after the Italians sank the visiting platform when the mark was already in sight. Despite the injury at halftime (3-22), Italy closed the gap with trials by Negri, after a nice kick, and by Brex, but Wales did not see their victory in jeopardy.
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