>> Gal­lagher: Hideous law pro­tects scrum-halves

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E“If that was off­side of­fi­cial­dom missed an­other ten off­sides yes­ter­day”

DDIE JONES ap­par­ently wants his Eng­land side to start mak­ing the movies not watch­ing them and dur­ing yes­ter­day’s mati­nee show­ing at Twick­en­ham they un­ques­tion­ably shared star billing with the world cham­pi­ons and num­ber one ranked side.

Ul­ti­mately, we were de­nied the happy rose-tinted end­ing that Hol­ly­wood nor­mally de­mands but it was com­pelling box of­fice fare none­the­less, a high qual­ity game in filthy con­di­tions.

There were of course some mys­te­ri­ous plot­lines which left you scratch­ing your head and ar­gu­ing heat­edly in the bar af­ter­wards and guess­ing what the crit­ics will be writ­ing in the morn­ing.

Why was Dy­lan Hart­ley, pick­ing off dou­ble top with non­cha­lance in the ap­palling weather and gen­er­ally en­joy­ing his best game for a cou­ple of years, re­placed at half-time? Af­ter which the Eng­land li­ne­out fell apart. Did Jamie George blow his lines or was it a col­lec­tive fail­ure? Or was it just down to the bril­liant of Brodie Re­tal­lick?

Why did Jerome Garces – who had the most per­fect van­tage point in all of Twick­en­ham for the con­tro­ver­sial call on Court­ney Lawes – al­low him­self to be al­most lec­tured like a naughty school­boy by the TMO when only this week World Rugby re­it­er­ated that they want the TMO in­volved less and the ref­eree to lead the dis­cus­sion at all times.

To these eyes the ball had cleared the back of the ruck so you could ar­gue it was in play and TJ Per­a­nara no longer had that pro­tec­tion of be­ing able to just rest his hands on the ball, a hideous law amend­ment which slows the game down hor­ri­bly and pe­nalises the team at­tempt­ing to de­fend to a ridicu­lous de­gree. Lawes chal­lenge was as per­fectly timed as it pos­si­ble to be.

If that was off­side of­fi­cial­dom missed an­other ten off­sides yes­ter­day but hav­ing said all that there is no ques­tion that Eng­land rode their luck last week.

These things al­ways even them­selves out but frus­trat­ingly you can never dic­tate when Lady Luck looks your way. Eng­land to a man would trade that win over South Africa for a vic­tory over

New Zealand last night

The other mys­tery is why did Eng­land make such a hash of what should have been the match win­ning dropped goal in the 78th minute? We have all seen that film many time be­fore and know ex­actly how it should end. In fact we pos­si­bly be­came a bit bored with it, so much so that it went out of fash­ion.

The screen direc­tions should go some­thing like this: Sargeant ma­jor scrum-half barks or­ders at his pack, guides them this way or that while never pass­ing the ball more than about three feet and then when the mo­ment is right, he fires a pass back to the blond bloke in the pocket who pops over the win­ning goal.

Jonny Wilkin­son, for he was that man, found him­self cast in that role through­out his ca­reer and be­came word per­fect, in fact he banged over 36 Test dropped goals dur­ing his ca­reer. I won­der what he was think­ing up in the stands yes­ter­day.

“Why did Eng­land make a hash of what should have been the win­ning dropped goal in the 78th minute?”

The thing about dropped goals is that the sup­port cast is ev­ery­thing, de­spite ap­pear­ances they are the ul­ti­mate team ef­fort.

It was no good yes­ter­day Owen Far­rell and George Ford drop­ping back into the pocket and mak­ing them­selves avail­able if the for­wards in front of them are just ham­mer­ing away mak­ing ran­dom yardage. There needs to be a clear call so that every­body knows what the plan is.

It is pos­si­bly cruel to sin­gle out Court­ney Lawes be­cause the big man was gen­er­ally mag­nif­i­cent off the bench for Eng­land – dur­ing his first spell he made eight hits in ten min­utes – but what on earth was he think­ing off head­ing for the wide spa­ces and throw­ing out such a wild pass? Baf­fling. And costly.

Eng­land will know deep down they should prob­a­bly have won yes­ter­day but they showed enough in de­feat to con­vince most ob­servers that the big bounce back they need af­ter a fairly mis­er­able 2018 is well un­der­way.

In ap­palling con­di­tions, they played with pre­ci­sion in­tel­li­gence and un­remit­ting pas­sion to make New Zealand look pretty or­di­nary in the first half hour.

The stats will tell you that the All Blacks still shaded the ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion dur­ing this pe­riod but don’t be fooled – the qual­ity of Eng­land’s de­fence had them ac­tu­ally con­trol­ling pro­ceed­ings.

Chris Ash­ton – thought by some to be a star of yes­ter­year but mak­ing a well pub­li­cised come­back – took just two min­utes to do what he does best and nip in for a try and im­pressed with a num­ber of touches through­out, so much so it was a sur­prise to see him come off.

Ash­ton can al­ways pro­duce the un­ex­pected and there was just one point be­tween the teams. You looked around and won­dered who was most likely to con­jure some points for Eng­land and be­hind Owen Far­rell it is Ash­ton ev­ery time.

Sam Un­der­hill was the stand out, though. His tack­ling was im­mense and very con­fronta­tional while stay­ing within the laws – in fact it was text­book and many would do well to em­u­late his tech­nique – but he will be re­mem­bered for ever for one of the best and most dra­matic non­tries in his­tory.

The way he shred­ded Beau­den Bar­rett was sen­sa­tional al­though alas it ended up on the cut­ting room floor!

All ac­tion: Jack Good­hue feels the Court­ney Lawes power

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