England will take ugly win one more time
It is hats off to England for reaching the World Cup final - what an amazing achievement.Martin Corry has said he feels their World Cup journey is more akin to a Hollywood script, and the players have played a major part.
It is hats off to England for reaching the World Cup final - what an amazing achievement.
Martin Corry has said he feels their World Cup journey is more akin to a Hollywood script, and the players have played a major part.
England have been in total disarray, but they've shown great shrewdness in the way they've played since that 36-0 defeat to South Africa a month ago.
It is great when you have got trust and belief in your pack of forwards like England have, and also in your goalkicker.
England aren't stupid. They know they are not going to score from 60 metres, and they play the pressure game. It's very simple.
It is a case of kicking themselves into position and coming away with points, so they are either just sneaking away from opponents or hanging in there. They've got a winning mindset now.
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Against France in the semi-final, I felt Les Bleus were playing not to lose the game, rather than going out to win it.
And as the pressure grew on them, France suddenly had everything to lose with being at home and having started the game as favourites.
England, basically, are difficult to beat if they play to their strengths, and you have also got to have respect for their head coach Brian Ashton, who has been refreshingly honest when the team has performed badly.
There is no doubt the England players and coaches have grown together as a group. After that South Africa defeat, they've had tough games all the way through, which has really helped them.
England know what they are doing. These games are like wars of attrition, which is exactly what their players encounter in the Guinness Premiership every week.
England know what they have got to do to win games, and fair play to them. Everyone wrote them off, and now they are in the World Cup final.
International rugby is all about the top two inches, and making the simple decisions at the right times and playing in the right areas of the pitch at the right times.
England were comfortable in the way that semi-final was played, whereas France didn't play to their strengths. You never saw the French forwards running with the ball in hand.
When you get to the semi-finals, it is all about not making mistakes, but straightaway France full-back Damien Traille made a mistake when Josh Lewsey went over for that early try.
I was sat in the Premier Suite watching it at Old Trafford after doing the Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds, surrounded by Englishmen.
After about 60 minutes, everyone was thinking 'England are going to win this.' And so it proved.
If you look at someone like Jonny Wilkinson, he has been fantastic in this tournament although his kicking success rate percentage is down to what we are all used to.
But what is happening with Jonny, in my view, is that he's bossing the game with so much authority and his decision-making is better now than it has ever been.
Whether he has had to do that because he hasn't got the calibre of player around him as he had in 2003, I don't know.
England know what they have to do in games. Winning ugly is what it's all about - that is Test rugby, and it is something the All Blacks couldn't do in this tournament.
I thought South Africa were clinical in their semi-final performance against Argentina, and there is no question they have the capability to go through another couple of gears.
They look more dynamic than England.
The second-row pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha is the best in the world, while scrum-half Fourie du Preez is a very busy, talented player.
And then there is Bryan Habana - the best wing in the world, by far.
His chip and catch is something of a trademark, but he is not only amazingly quick, he's got great footballing ability and great awareness.
England though, will take heart from the performance of Argentina's pack, especially during the first-half, because they were dominating the game.
And after what England have achieved in the past few weeks, you just never know.