Fans Support Sir Ian McGeechan's Criticism of Steve Borthwick's Decisions - Ruck

Fans Support Sir Ian McGeechan’s Criticism of Steve Borthwick’s Decisions

Sir Ian McGeechan believes that a tactical plan was in place for the timing of England’s replacements, but the team’s collective momentum suffered as a result.

While Steve Borthwick’s side can take encouragement from many aspects of Saturday’s opener, there is concern that they missed a significant opportunity to win a Test in New Zealand for the first time in over two decades.

Not only are the All Blacks likely to be stronger next week, but their record at Eden Park is formidable. No team has won at the spiritual home of New Zealand rugby since France in 1994.

He wrote in his column for The Telegraph: “To maintain a good performance, you rely on the tactical nuances introduced by your replacements. For England, that was a mixed bag.

“I was not expecting some of the replacements at the times they happened. Alex Mitchell, for instance, was causing New Zealand problems with the speed at which he was playing. England lost a bit of pace after he went off.

“I know the game changed, mainly because both teams had to work harder at the breakdowns. Losing a second or more there meant the game reverted to more of a kicking battle, and if you are in one of those, you probably want Ben Spencer on the pitch.

“McGeechan conintued: “Spencer suits a game that becomes a kicking exchange, but if England were going to keep the pace up, you would have expected maybe 10 more minutes out of Mitchell.

“I thought the same of Tom Curry replacing Chandler Cunningham-South. Curry clearly needs game-time because he is not where he was during the World Cup and he conceded a breakdown penalty early on. I can see why Borthwick will have wanted him there, but I would question the timing.

“Cunningham-South had been receiving treatment, which was the case against Japan a couple of weeks ago as well. Again, though, he was brought off earlier than I expected. He is such a good ball-carrier, which helps drive the collective momentum.”

“Inexcusable” – Four England players who flopped and who should replace them for second test

New Zealand narrowly defeated England 16-15 in a thrilling opening Test in Dunedin, marking a victorious start for new head coach Scott Robertson.

Below, we look at what changes Steve Borthwick could make for next weekend’s clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park.

#1. Marcus Smith

Rugby Pass 5/10: “Inexcusable miss in front of the posts early in the second half, but bounced back immediately with some passes timed to absolute perfection as England scored their second. After being penned back in the first half due to New Zealand’s territorial supremacy, he was able to express himself much more after the break as England gained more control. Unfortunately, two kicks from five are the statistics that can define Test matches though, and that might well have been the case in Dunedin”

Telegraph 6/10: “Missed two sitters off the tee which England had to take. Didn’t love the grubber when England were attacking well but two slick passes before Feyi-Waboso’s score. Bottom line, the missed points were critical. “

Replacement: Fin Smith is waiting the wings, but we’d give Marcus another run out next weekend