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George Ford says ill-disciplined England must own Wales defeat and not blame ref


George Ford says England’s record defeat in Cardiff is on the players and not blunder ref Pascal Gauzere.

Wales were gifted a two-try headstart and went on to score more points against England than ever before.

The astonishing leg-up catapulted the home side towards a Triple Crown and left England’s title defence in tatters.

Yet fly-half Ford told team mates it was not good enough to blame defeat on the hapless French official.

“The thing that let us down significantly was our discipline,” he said. “In Test matches, one penalty is enough to shift the momentum of the game, never mind a handful.

“It’s something we’re going to have to grab hold of as players. It’s not the first time it’s potentially cost us. We’re going to have to front that one up.”

Biggest culprit was Maro Itoje, making a mess of his Lions captaincy audition in front of the watching Warren Gatland.



Josh Adams opens try scoring for Wales
Josh Adams opens try scoring for Wales

Itoje coughed up five of England’s 14 penalties – that’s 10 in three games – leaving Eddie Jones to admit, “there are areas of the game he needs to tidy up”.

The coach added: “Maro is one of the best players in the world and he plays the game on the edge. Sometimes referees tend to over-referee a player like him.”

The alternative view is the problem lies within and England lack the on-field nous to navigate waters that become in any way choppy.



Kieran Hardy celebrates scoring Wales' third try
Kieran Hardy celebrates scoring Wales’ third try

World Cup winner Matt Dawson questioned whether they have the “right type” of leadership to win rugby games.

“I want to see a player going up to another England player, in his face, telling him to stop giving penalties away,” he told the BBC.

“Screaming at the forwards when they get into a decent area so that they do not concede any penalties.



Alun Wyn Jones came out on top in unofficial Lions captaincy audition
Alun Wyn Jones came out on top in unofficial Lions captaincy audition

“I hear the England players and it is all cajoling and tapping people on the bum telling them it is okay when they have just given away their 13th penalty.”

Jones conceded there are individual issues with indiscipline but said he would deal with them on an individual basis.

It needs to happen fast as they have gifted opponents 41 penalties in just three matches.



Callum Sheedy: “We knew if we could choke England enough, they would get ill-disciplined”
Callum Sheedy: “We knew if we could choke England enough, they would get ill-disciplined”

It is such a recurring issue that 13-point match winner Callum Sheedy said Wales “knew” England would implode if they turned the heat up.

“We knew if we could choke them enough, they would get ill-disciplined,” the Bristol fly-half said.

Ironically, England had responded superbly to the twin injustice of tries by Josh Adams and Liam Williams being allowed to stand.



Ben Youngs goes over for England to level scores on the hour
Ben Youngs goes over for England to level scores on the hour

They channelled their anger into tries for Anthony Watson and Ben Youngs to level the match at 24-24 and briefly looked the more likely to go on and win.

But playing in bursts is not enough, not from a team with 12 of the side which started the 2019 World Cup semi final win over New Zealand.

Ford says England cannot keep banging on about that game, that they have to move forward.



Ford tackles Wales try scorer Kieran Hardy
Ford tackles Wales try scorer Kieran Hardy

“We’re a team where we are now,” he added. “We’re not a team where we were against New Zealand. We can’t keep looking back on that.”

But whilst the side remains unchanged despite performances regressing, they are going to have to live with the comparisons.

WALES – Tries: Adams, L Williams, Hardy, Hill. Cons: Biggar 2, Sheedy 2. Pens: Biggar, Sheedy 3.

ENGLAND – Tries: Watson, Youngs. Con: Farrell. Pens: Farrell 4.





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