No Doubt about It, Wales Have to Show Belief; Delme Parfitt Considers 10 More Things We Learned from the Latest Round of Six Nations Matches
Byline: Delme Parfitt
NUMBER 1 IT'S ALL IN THE MIND away because of individuals' unwillingness to take on responsibility.
I AM not a consultant psychologist, but despite two victories on the trot, Wales appear to me to still be wracked by self-doubt.
When they got what was potentially a six-point swing in their favour at the end of the first-half against Italy to go in leading 21-11, there was every indication they could go on to a 30-point win. I see no evidence that they are backing themselves in the way they should. We must see some belief, some self-expression, or we will not see the best of this Wales side. Not by a long chalk.
But Warren Gatland's men went into their shells afterwards, committing schoolboy errors and kicking possession Against Ireland, as the home side, the onus will be firmly on them to set the tempo. I'd like to see them finally throw off the shackles and go out and play like they can.
NUMBER 2 ROBBO'S LOSING IT!
The Scots were architects of their own downfall against Ireland THE reaction of Andy Robinson to Scotland's 21-18 defeat to Ireland at Murrayfield last weekend bore the hallmarks of a man under serious pressure.
Yes he had a point about multiple Irish errors not being punished sufficiently by Welsh fashion. Rarely, in the meticulously prepared world of modern Test match rugby do you see a try scored as easily as the one Jamie Heaslip harvested in the opening minutes of that game. He could have lit a cigar before strolling over.
referee Nigel Owens, but to suggest that was the reason for his team's demise was a smokescreen.
Scotland lost because they defended in the most shocking Frankly, it was embarrassing to watch and Scotland can now gird their collective loins for a wooden spoon decider against Italy on the final weekend.
NUMBER 3 AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT...
IN the last month the Scots have provided us with a lesson in when not to talk yourselves up.
Come to think of it, perhaps they've been taking lessons in mind games from Warren Gatland... foolish. Pundits spoke of comfortably beating Wales, coach Robinson was also indulging in fighting talk. But Scotland forgot that when you are in the midst of a so-called revival, it stops dead in its tracks the moment you lose. No matter what the circumstances.
how to ensure pre-match comments end up exploding in your face!
Scoring three tries in what remained a comprehensive defeat to France in Paris in the opening match triggered a bout of bullishness which has since made the Braves look That so-called waltz in Paris was little to write home about in reality. Humility and caution should have been the order of the day, not deluded chest-beating.
NUMBER 4 ITALY'S LONG MARCH THE trouble with Italy as a nation is that, when it comes to sport, it is not renowned for its patience.
Where are they as we head towards the last hurrah? Where they always are, targeting their outing against Scotland for a brief bit of glory.
Pity then that the appointment of Nick Mallett, the growing experience of Six Nations rugby, the entry into the Magners League for their top two clubs...all are held up as reasons for Six Nations expectations to rise.
But it's going to be a long haul for the Azzurri, anything between five to 10 years if Even if they succeed it will not represent progress of any sort. But until the Italians begin to start producing a conveyor belt of quality players - and they have the population size - then their status in this competition will remain unchanged.
Sergio Parisse can't Mallett is right. do it on his own forever.
NUMBER 5 ENGLAND: GOOD, BUT NOT GREAT THE consensus is that as impressive as England have been thus far, they will not be causing disruption to the sleep patterns of the southern hemisphere big three in World Cup year. had the rub of the green last Saturday for me, the ball bouncing in their favour at least twice to deny Les Bleus what looked certain tries.
I'd go along with that. Martin Johnson'smen are good, but not that good. England have undoubtedly been helped on their way as well by a bizarre fixture list that has afforded them three home games in succession. Talk about a following wind.
They have a dangerous trio in the back three in Cueto, Ashton and Foden, a pack that does all the basics well and half-backs who can dictate when the team's tail is up.
But while no win against France is to be sniffed at, England. That said, England can keep improving, and with the likes of Lawes and Croft to come back from injury, they could be an even stronger force by the time they play Wales in the pre-World Cup August double-header.
NUMBER 6 No 10 DOUBLE ACTS JUST as some comedians are nothing without their straight men, this has become a tournament where each nation appears to have two different styles of fly-half - a bobber and a weaver, and a steadier Eddie. Sexton, England have Toby Flood (he of the right-footed side-step) and dead-eyed, experienced banker Jonny Wilkinson (not a joke-teller from what I've heard).
I give you James Hook (I've no idea if he can tell a good yarn) and Stephen Jones first up, with Hook having shown his snake-hipped tendencies at Murrayfield. Scotland have a classic safety-first kicker in Dan Parks (someone who has actually induced a bit of laughter at times) and the dancing Ruaridh Jackson.
Look elsewhere and you have similar contrasts. France have David Skrela and the more unorthodox Francois Trinh-Duc.
Ireland have navigator-in-chief Ronan O'Gara and the more adventurous Jonny Italy boast Kristopher Burton and Luciano Orquera....no sniggering at the back, please.
NUMBER 7 WALES NEED A 'BANGER' BACK to Gatland's men, and it strikes me that they have no real ball-carrying threat in the side at the moment. of the rest of the pack, nobody really springs to mind.
Yes, there is Bradley Davies who makes some good hard yards and, yes, the skipper Matthew Rees puts himself Of course, Jamie Roberts (inset) performs the role behind the scrum, but it's a bit of a lone crusade on the part of the Blues man.
We really need someone in about.
But when they need to make ground up the middle of the field, options are few. the back row who can take the ball off the back of scrums and rucks and punch a few holes.
Ryan Jones doesn't smash through defences, and when you think about the make-up I suppose Andy Powell can do it, but on present form you couldn't justify including him.
NUMBER 8 SCRUM LOOKING GLUM chance to exert their dominance.
PERHAPS one of the reasons Italy have struggled is that the number of scrums continue to decrease.
Against Wales there were only seven, and not one for the first 20 minutes. Given the amount of resets that are necessary these days, and the fact that you could die of old age before some are completed, most spectators probably don't object.
At Twickenham, where the Italians were trounced earlier last month, there were just five of the set-pieces.
But the integral part scrums play in the contest of a rugby match cannot be erased.
It's the one facet of the game where Italy can hold their own with anyone in the world, but they are just not getting the The IRB are apparently trying to come up with solutions to stem the tediousness of it all. Lord help us.
NUMBER 9 FLANKER FINDS ONE area of symmetry between Wales and England is that they both appear to have discovered Test match quality gems at openside flanker.
For Wales, Sam Warburton has come through to show once and for all that he can be the heir to Martyn Williams' throne as the king of Welsh number sevens, claiming his first international try against Italy last Saturday.
in with a degree of trepidation when Lewis Moody was ruled out of the start of the competition with injury.
On the other side of the bridge Tom Wood, the 24-year-old Northampton schemer, has been the find of the tournament for England.
But he took his debut at the Millennium Stadium in his stride and hasn't looked back.
Wood (pictured) was pitched It says it all that Mad Dog Moody has barely been missed.
NUMBER 10 ROG ROARS AGAIN JUST another word on the subject of fly-halves to finish.
Ronan O'Gara will break through the 1,000 Test match points barrier if he so much as slots a single conversion against Wales on Saturday week and you cannot but admire his longevity.
On Monday he will celebrate his 34th birthday, but he showed no signs that age is withering him in the way he dictated the pattern against Scotland last weekend.
And that's just what he does best.
Give O'Gara a bit of time and space behind a pack that's moving forward and he knows all the right buttons to press.
The younger Jonny Sexton waits in the wings, but as O'Gara showed, there's many a good tune played on a old fiddle.
need to show more self-belief against Ireland
Ronan O'Gara with his man-of-the-match medal Sam Warburton claimed his first international try against Italy, but Wales went into their shells after building a 21-11 lead and will…
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Publication information: Article title: No Doubt about It, Wales Have to Show Belief; Delme Parfitt Considers 10 More Things We Learned from the Latest Round of Six Nations Matches. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales). Publication date: March 3, 2011. Page number: 56. © 2009 MGN Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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