You know us #rugbyunited lot, we LOVES us a guestblog! We have a debut guest blogger today, so show some love, give some feedback and welcome Molly to the blogging family!!!
England's defiant victory over Wales yesterday means that Lancaster's young squad are still in the running for a 2014 Six Nations triumph. Quick thinking and typical scrum-half wit shown by Danny Care initially threw Wales onto the back-foot, which is where they seemed to stay for the entire match. Added blows included Farrell's 100% kicking record and Burrell's emphatic try, thanks to a top class grubber kick by Billy Twelvetrees (I'll hold my hands up, for a split second I doubted his talent and was ready to curse him for making a poor decision... silly me!) Wales' usual stars failed to shine, with George North kicking too much and being denied a decent run (thanks to a great England defence) and Sam Warburton not showing his full potential, quick over the ball but too often left to face England up front by himself. Leigh Halfpenny was undoubtedly the sides' saving grace, not only being on point with every penalty, but being the last man standing and launching himself at Burrell, denying him his second try of the match, a tackle which caused Halfpenny a dislocated shoulder and setting him aside for the rest of the season.
Whilst Courtney Lawes took MOTM, his partner in crime Joe Launchbury was again a key part in England's pack, making crucial tackles, working hard and instinctively knowing where he needed to be. Complimenting Lawes in every decision, this pairing proves dangerous and makes it difficult for Lancaster to choose a second row when Geoff Parling returns from injury. Launchbury was definitely a strong contender for MOTM.
Yet again, Mike Brown ran his socks off, making 18 carries and 156 metres, more than any other man on the pitch. Wales played right into his hands (literally) by kicking to him so much. Once deemed Mr Angry, his constant stand out performances ooze control and confidence, something I am definitely looking forward to seeing again next week against Italy.
More notable performances include David Wilson and his close-but-not-close-enough run (always a spectacular sight to see a prop covering ground), Joe Marler who has clearly matured since last years meet and who out played Adam Jones this time around, and his replacement Mako Vunipola, who continues to tank through the defensive line of the opposition like nobody else and in his 17 minutes of play yesterday, reiterated Marler's determination, mind set and work ethic.
Next week's clash with Italy should be a walkover, and hopefully the strong England side will be able to use it as an opportunity to further showcase the young talents of Nowell and Ford, who are still yet to play their best. Without being presumptuous, and knowing the Italy are still desperately itching for a win this series, Lancaster should be proud of the way his boys have played this Six Nations. Despite an awkward start against France, this England squad have certainly found their feet and prove to be a growing and formidable force this year. Maybe the set backs of injuries have been a blessing in disguise?