As long as we beat the English, we don’t care
Reading, listening and watching the national press since Wales beat England twenty-eight points to twenty-five (28-25) in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night, you’d think Wales had committed some sort of daylight robbery against the English, that the English threw the game away when they should have won, and that Wales did not deserve the win.
Let me enlighten you: The Welsh tactics were spot on and Wales won because they are the better side.
Even before the kick-off Wales had the upper hand. England picked a side to neutralise the Welsh threat in mid-field. This ceded the psychological advantage to Wales: any team that thinks it can win the World Cup, and England think they can, picks a team that maximises their own strengths, not diminish their own team to counter their opponents. One-nil Wales.
With an injury ravaged squad, the Welsh game plan was to just stay in the game for the first sixty minutes. They did this competing relentlessly at the break-down. This is something Wales are renown for and is not a surprise. England were criticised for giving away to many needless penalties at the break-down. They were not needless penalties, they were forced into conceding them by Wales. This kept the scoreboard ticking over for Wales and within striking distance of England throughout the game.
Wales also neutralised one of England’s most effective plays - the driving maul. Wales time and again drove the England maul before it had time to settle, producing a quick wheel that led to the maul naturally collapsing. The only surprise about the last attempted maul by England right at the end of the game was not that Wales stopped it, but why England thought it would work at all. Two-nil Wales.
Wales spent the first sixty minutes working out the best way to attack England, then put it into practice in the final quarter. Credit here goes not just to the players but to Warren Gatland - probably the best coach in the world at the moment - and his coaching staff, especially Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards.
Wales’ try was not a soft try, as I’ve heard it described by Stuart Lancaster and the press, but was well worked based on an identified weakness in the English defence, and Wales had on two occasions prior to the try broken the first line of English defence with a similar move.
England were deploying a narrow rush defence with the wing staying deep. Wales deployed a very deep back-line making it harder for England to reach the Welsh attack - they also failed to adjust by pushing up-and-out - and Wales then quickly moved the ball to outside, around and behind the English defence. This then left a lot of space before the wing in defence was reached with several Welsh attackers bearing down on him. This also pulled in the English full-back to assist the wing. The kick in-field by Lloyd Williams (a scrum-half by trade) took out the English wing and full-back and made it a relatively simple task for the supporting Welsh attackers, in the form of scrum-half Gareth Davies, to pick up the ball and cross the line for a try. Three-nil Wales.
To take the lead and the win Wales then pressured England into conceding another penalty at the break-down, a penalty converted by the peerless Dan Biggar. Game, set and match to Wales.
Wales won because they are a better team, superbly implementing a great game-plan against superior forces.