27 Sep 2015

Banged-up Wales knock off the old enemy

7:20 pm on 27 September 2015

The Benchwarmer's Comment by Jamie Wall, rugby writer and washed-up player - @jamiewall2

OPINION: Imagine throwing the party of the year, only to find yourself too excited by the occasion and falling asleep at 9pm.

That might be England in a week's time - they're now one loss away from the ignominy of having to watch the tournament played in their own country on TV, like the rest of us.

Welsh press don't hide their delight.

Welsh press don't hide their delight. Photo: Supplied

While not in the same stratosphere as Japan's shining moment last weekend in terms of upsets, on paper England should have won this game.

Wales had been hit hard by injuries in the lead-up to the tournament.

England were at home in front of a passionate Twickenham crowd and feeling confident after a decent performance against Fiji.

But rugby isn't played on paper, so even after a first half of English domination, the Welsh lifted their game to come away with a famous victory.

English captain Chris Robshaw made two huge calls in the final minutes, one for which he will get unfairly criticised and one that he deserves to completely carry the can for.

His very un-English decision to turn down a shot at goal that would have leveled the scores on full-time wasn't actually that bad. While Owen Farrell had been kicking well, it was by no means a sure thing.

Besides, had they executed the lineout properly the chances of at least gaining another penalty were pretty high.

Welsh Rugby - Gareth Davies try

A Gareth Davies try propelled Wales to an astounding victory over England. Photo: Supplied

However, deciding to take the lineout throw at the front was a monumental error.

The Welsh simply didn't compete, then crashed their pack on the openside of the English maul and the whole move came to a underwhelming halt when Robshaw's boot went over the sideline.

It was baffling to watch and credit has to go to the Welsh for not just standing there dumbfounded by their opponent's stupidity.

As expected, the game was dominated by the boot, with both teams kicking 11 penalties between them and Owen Farrell landing a drop goal for good measure.

Welsh first five Dan Biggar was perfect off the tee, knocking the match-winning three points from just inside halfway with the nonchalance of a guy showing off at Thursday night training.

Wales beat England at 2015 Rugby World Cup

Welsh first five Dan Biggar kicks the match-winning penalty. Photo: Supplied

Biggar also expertly got in the ear of referee Jerome Garces, not being a blatant pest but more making sure that Garces was giving them a fair go.

There were a series of stoppages throughout, however the whipping boy of the World Cup can't be blamed this time.

It was injuries, rather than the Television Match Official, that held up proceedings.

The Welsh, doing it tough already, began dropping like flies throughout the game.

While this result will invigorate their campaign, their resources will be stretched to a pretty critical level if they make the quarter-finals.

One thing's for certain though: inviting Tom Jones to present the team jerseys before the match clearly had the right effect.

The result itself did more than just expose some serious frailties in the English team.

Their midfield was as stagnant as last weekend's dishwater, with the much-hyped Sam Burgess providing no valid reasons for his inclusion in the starting lineup.

Their forward play, while strong and direct, was predictable and countered by the Welsh commitment in the tackle.

Their next match is against the Wallabies, one that our friends across the Tasman have been carefully planning for ever since the draw came out.

A loss for the hosts there would send them spiraling out of the Rugby World Cup, but even making it through means a likely quarter-final appearance against a rapidly improving Springboks team.

The Benchwarmer's Comment logo

Jamie 'The Benchwarmer' Wall grew up in Wellington and enjoyed a stunningly mediocre rugby career in which the sole highlight was a seat on the bench for his club's premier side. He's enjoyed far more success spouting his viewpoints on the game to anyone who'll care to listen.

The Benchwarmer's Comment will run throughout the World Cup on radionz.co.nz