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Reviewpilez: England V Wales, 6th August 2011 August 7, 2011

Filed under: England,Game Reports,Rugby World Cup,RWC2011,Wales — Manpilez @ 1:15 am

The first of these two alleged friendlies between England and Wales today was a bit of a mixed bag. Both teams were as rusty as an old gate but one showed promise of great things to come… but it wasn’t the one we expected.

Yes, England ended the 80 minutes with four more points than Wales, but in terms of defence, tenacity and creativity, it seems Wales may just have clinched the pride points. England, on the other hand seemed to be coming away with a slightly hollow victory.

For the first 20 minutes, the sides seemed quite evenly matched, Jonny Wilkinson had dispatched three points from his reliable boots and George North had gone over the whitewash for a try. The turning point came when a promising intercept by Toby Falatau was in turn intercepted by Delon Armitage, who was clumsily pulled up deep into the Welsh 22’. No points were scored, but Wales’ confidence was shaken. Clumsy mistakes and spilled balls followed from both sides with England gaining the edge enough for James Haskell and debutante Manu Tuilangi to breach the Welsh defence before Wales got their groove back.

As much as we hate to use this particular cliché, Ryan Jones in particular was talismanic (sorry) this time around, and it was obvious from the moment he took to the field that not only did he mean business, but the boys around him were going to pitch in with him. The Welsh hope started to build from that moment on and every single man in a red shirt seemed to step up a gear.

While England fell back on trademark Wilkinson drop goals when their attacks were pulling up short, Wales held their nerve to grind out two more tries, going through the phases until they had the kind of space and shape they had been severely lacking in recent tests. This was not the Wales that fell at the English sword at the Six Nations, this was a tenacious Wales with the confidence to push forward even when completely surrounded by black shirts.

That’s not to say England didn’t deserve the win, there were some fantastic performances from the Saes boys. England’s Marmite player Matt Banahan shone out with some fantastic runs and barnstorming tackles, man of the moment Manu Tuilangi was fierce enough to frighten the usually fearless Shane Williams into running into Jamie Roberts for support and Danny Care proved that it wasn’t just Ben Youngs’ residual medical niggles that had seen him pull on the 9 shirt.

The return fixture next week is now looking like a very different prospect as both teams go away and look at what went wrong and iron out the kinks in their game plans. Who can take more from the experience of this game only time will tell, but we’re very glad it’s looking towards being a more evenly matched game.

Manpilez Man of the match – Extremely hard to choose this time around, it’s almost easier to name those that didn’t show flashes of brilliance, in fact. In terms of solid 80 minute performances though, I can still only narrow it down to one for each Team, England’s Matt Banahan and Wales’ Sam ‘The Warburtron’ Warburton

Manpilez’ sniggery moment – Shane’s retreat from Manu, he ploughed into Jamie Roberts like Scooby Doo when confronted by a ghost. Hilarious, if unfortunate, stuff.

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Previewpilez: England V Wales, 6th August 2011 August 6, 2011

Filed under: England,Rugby World Cup,RWC2011,Wales — Manpilez @ 3:12 am
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Yes, we know this is supposed to be a friendly, a kickabout between two neighbours and all that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited. By rights, Johno should be out in Twickenham putting jumpers down for goal posts and slicing oranges. Alas not, for there’s a lot more at stake than your average summer international game.

For a start, this is England and Wales, one of the hottest rivalries of the rugby world, between whom no meetings can ever truly be classed as friendly. It also marks the start of northern hemisphere’s countdown to the World Cup. High hopes abound both sides of the border as old hands and new blood battle it out not only for the honour of their country, but for that all important place on the World Cup Squad

On paper, the starting lineups Johno and Gatst have selected look pretty evenly matched, a good blend of the tried and tested (Stephen Jones gets is 101st cap going head to head against England’s high priest of kicking Jonny Wilkinson) the young and hungry (England’s next big thing Manu Tuilagi gets his first cap while Toby Faletau will be making his sophomore appearance in red) and the downright controversial (Matt Stevens returns for England after his 2 year ban before Mike Phillips’ tail has yet to be extracted from between his legs after the McDonalds incident). This means this clash will essentially be a battle of wills and the end result could well be down to which team has the most hunger and belief.

Of late, it has seemed that Wales’ problem lay not in the individual skill of the players, which was largely exemplary, but in their bond as a team.  Rumours of infighting, emergency meetings of ‘senior payers’ and senior coaching staff actually beating each other up have been all too common in the recent past but thankfully, since the team regrouped  in June the whispers coming from west of the Severn haven’t been so tumultuous. Whether splitting the team for the Poland training camps was wise remains to be seen, but there thankfully seems to be a little less discomfort.

In TW1, on the other hand, there is an air not only of harmony, but excitement. At O2’s Get Up For England event (More on that next week) I caught up with some of the boys and it was clear that the mood in the England camp is one of determined anticipation. Each player, though fighting for his place on the squad is getting stuck in just as much for the common good as for themselves and they go into this game seeking to continue building momentum from their Six Nations Win.

Former Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones was probably most emphatic “Saturday is going to be a pretty fierce test, you know, England v Wales, there’s loads of history in it. Both squads are going to be looking to get out there and get all those moves and plays we’ve been practicing onto the pitch, so this will give us more real idea of where we are and what to expect . It’s without doubt going to be very tough.

They say it’s a friendly but there’s so much at stake. The guys are playing for the opportunity to go to the world cup so there’s nothing bigger really in that regard. You always want to go and get the best performance, you know it’s not schoolboy trials anymore!”

Clashes between England and Wales are always electric, we just hope it’s not going to be as one-sided as the buzz around each camp seems to be at the moment.

Ones to Watch: Wales – Toby Faletau. It’s only his second cap but he’s showing masses of promise. England – Charlie Sharples. As yet uncapped for England, and on the bench today, we’ve been hearing some incredible things about the Gloucester wing, not least from team mate Ben Foden ‘He’s the fastest white man in the world’. We’re hoping to see him take a run out to see if it’s true!

Ones to get distracted by: England–  Lewis Moody, he’s back, baby! Wales – Luke Charteris, another face we’ve missed being distracted by.

 

Previewpilez: ITV’s Rugby World Cup July 31, 2011

After some of the whining coming from Wendyball fans since the last Football World Cup, I’m sure we weren’t the only people a little worried about what ITV were going to throw at us for the Rugby World cup come September. Despite the fact ITV have a Rugby World Cup history almost as long as the tournament, we couldn’t help worrying we were going to be saddled with a certain Mr Chiles, or worse… Henson.

We needn’t have worried. This Thursday, ITV revealed the team who are going to be bringing us all the action from New Zealand and as well of a team full of Rugby World Cup Experience, what came across was that they are all as excited as we are, which bodes well for the enthusiasm and heart they will bring to the coverage. Not only that, as well as all the live games being broadcast on ITV1, ITV4 and ITV1 HD, there will be the series ‘Dallaglio’s World Cups in which Lol takes some time out from making all the lovely pasta sauce to look at World Cups past, a dedicated website over at itv.com and even an iPhone App so that if you want to you can completely immerse yourself in the Rugby World cup and not miss a single second.

While ITV Rugby Regular and part-time Hagrid Martin Bayfield reports from the touchlines down under, Steve Ryder and self- confessed ‘Rugby Anorak’ Craig Doyle will be in the studio in London with a merry bunch of former internationals with rugby still as close to their hearts as it was in their playing days. The Southern Hemisphere is represented by former All-Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, unlikely winner of the award for ‘most likely to be played by Matt Damon’, Francois Pienaar and Wallabies skipper Michael Lynagh. Closer to home, Lawrence Dallaglio, Andy Gomersall and Phil Vickery will be representing England, the lovely Scott Hastings and former Dieux De Stade Star Thom Evans will be holding up the flower of Scotland, while Gareth Thomas will be bringing his dually-coded perspective for Wales and Alan Quinlan will be providing Ireland’s call.

We caught up with some of the team involved and it was obvious that as well as that enthusiasm, there’s a camaraderie forming from the off, which bodes well for some great discussions and insight once the tournament gets into full swing. Craig Doyle himself put his finger on it “I really like this group, the difference is [compared to ITV’s coverage of past tournaments] we’re doing rugby every week now and we see these boys all the time, we see the likes of Lawrence and Scott and it’s very relaxed.”

What’s also extremely clear, is that they are as excited as we are. Scott Hastings was most animated of all  “We’re going into a culture that loves, eats, sleeps rugby, it’s going to be an amazing tournament and we’ll be blown away by the intensity, the fun, the passion. They’ve been taking the Rugby World Cup around all places like Napier and New Plymouth and the interest and passions from the supporters and fans, getting dressed up just for the cup to come into town!

I’ve played in a few rugby world cups and this is my fourth with ITV so I’m really looking forward to it.”

His Fellow Scot on the team, Thom Evans, was the most humble about his newfound career in punditry “Because I‘m not going to be out there involved in it I’m just happy to still be a part of it. I haven’t really done much presenting yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how I feel once I get into the swing of it!”

If Rugby World Cup fever hasn’t quite hit you yet, five minutes listening to this lot will get you there, I’m sure of it!

You can check out the Schedule, as well as clips from past tournaments already at http://www.itv.com/rugbyworldcup/.

Stay tuned over the next six weeks as we start bringing you the Rugby World Cup 2011 the Manpilez way.

Words by Lauren, pictures courtesy of ITV