The young scriptwriter would surely have been thrown out of Ri­d­ley Scott’s of­fice with a flea in his ear.

“De­ter­mined to prove they have ab­sorbed all they need to know from their stricken hero they turn up at the gates of the en­emy lay­ing down a chal­lenge,” he had writ­ten.

“They are al­lowed to en­ter and for an hour they suf­fer hideous losses, their ranks re­duced un­til it seems they can­not pos­si­bly cope, among the stricken two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the same tribe who had taken the places of pre­vi­ously fallen he­roes. One of their num­ber has, how­ever, taken the place of their hero and landed mor­tal blow af­ter mor­tal blow, while a gi­ant fig­ure takes ev­ery break in the ac­tion to rally those who re­main as the stretcher bear­ers are al­lowed time to tend to, then re­move those no longer able to par­tic­i­pate, from the arena.

“Some­how they rouse them­selves to one, fi­nal mag­nif­i­cent ef­fort and, fresh cav­alry surg­ing down an un­guarded flank, they strike a sur­prise at­tack, deep at the heart of the en­emy. Still there is time, though and the su­pe­rior force drives re­lent­lessly for­ward once more, un­til its gen­eral makes a dread­ful er­ror when, rather than save the day and move on to another when his su­pe­rior num­bers will surely tell, he goes for the quick kill and in­stead al­lows the gi­ant to leap into ac­tion once more and en­sure the vic­tory.”

The great movie di­rec­tor’s head would surely have rolled back in de­spair.

“Too cheesy… way too cheesy,” he would have con­cluded, while per­haps also won­der­ing how his back­ers’ de­mands that he pro­duce sev­eral more se­quels could be sat­is­fied if this sort of cli­max was to oc­cur so early on.

That is the chal­lenge fac­ing World Cup or­gan­is­ers af­ter a match that should not have lived up to the billing some had given it, of be­ing the great­est ever Eng­land v Wales en­counter, ar­guably did so on Satur­day.

This was another ex­tra­or­di­nary odds-de­fy­ing tri­umph for War­ren Gat­land, the coach­ing ge­nius who has now steered more Wales teams to vic­to­ries over Eng­land at Twick­en­ham in eight years than the com­bined might mus­tered by Scot­land has man­aged in al­most 90 years.

With Leigh Half­penny, the marks­man whose ac­cu­racy had won them many pre­vi­ous bat­tle and fel­low Lion Jonathan Davies among the huge list of Welsh ca­su­al­ties ahead of it, their re­place­ments in the start­ing line-up, Liam and Scott Wil­liams, were both car­ried from the field dur­ing a bru­tal sec­ond half.

Dan Biggar kept on land­ing his goals, though, while Alun Wyn Jones, their tow­er­ing lock, along with Sam War­bur­ton, their cap­tain, urged the rest to stay in the fight un­til re­in­force­ments, most tellingly in the form of the very least ex­pe­ri­enced of the Wil­liams’, could get up to pace and play their part.

The cool-headed way in which re­place­ment Lloyd Wil­liams first stretched the English de­fence, then spot­ted the weak­ness in their cover to slide his cross-field grub­ber into the path of Gareth Davies for what proved the match-win­ning try was as re­mark­able as Chris Rob­shaw’s de­ci­sion there­after to spurn the chance to tie the match, an out­come that would surely have favoured Eng­land with their su­pe­rior over­all man-power, not least given the dam­age in­flicted in the course of this bat­tle.

The fear for or­gan­is­ers has to be that this tour­na­ment has peaked too soon since it is im­pos­si­ble to see how the qual­ity of the drama that un­folded on Satur­day can be matched, let alone sur­passed.

Yet sport has a way of ad­dress­ing these things and, even in the short term, at the end of an Ashes sum­mer this week­end’s Eng­land v Aus­tralia match could hardly be a more mouth­wa­ter­ing prospect.

The scene is set for rugby’s great­est ever tour­na­ment if this pace can be main­tained, but af­ter Satur­day’s spec­ta­cle it is hard to imag­ine how.


In the dark north a pros­per­ous but un­ac­claimed Em­peror rubs his hands in glee as full de­tails of the con­flict emerge.

The way the south­ern tribes have ripped one another to shreds means his army, pre­vi­ously dis­counted as one fail­ure has fol­lowed another, could yet achieve the goal of global dom­i­na­tion he claimed was his strat­egy and which the wise el­ders con­demned as the dream­ing of a lu­natic.

He has sought to match the sorceror who has out-wit­ted all oth­ers in these parts with another from the same dis­tant lands.

His man may not be the master tac­ti­cian his com­pa­triot has proven to be, but he per­haps knows enough to be able to cap­i­talise when faced with weak­ened foes…

JU­BI­LA­TION: Wales coach War­ren Gat­land savours vic­tory over Eng­land

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.