Alun Carter: Comedy of errors a grim tale for Scots and English

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The Independent Online

Scotland's downfall, like England's, was due to the number of unforced errors they made. Starting with Dan Park's kick-off straight into touch they made eight in the first half alone. France made five but they had much more possession and did far more passing.

With France playing from deep with a high tempo they benefited from Scotland's failings by scoring 20 points and wrapping up the game by half-time.

The wins by France and Wales came from playing with new coaches and new styles. The difference was that France's style was based on attack and Wales's on defence. The outcomes were the same and helped by opposition inefficiency.

Scotland's failure to score a try was worrying but England suffer from the same problem. The one they scored on Saturday was only the 13th in their last 10 games and they were tryless in five of them. An inability to finish let Wales survive a first half in which the visitors kicked poorly, lost the ball in contact and missed their jumpers in the lineout.

Toby Flood's try from a Wilkinson cross-kick to Vainikolo was not enough for the big total of 14 minutes of possession they were afforded in this period, double that of Wales. Even three clear linebreaks by Strettle, Flood and Balshaw led to naught.

Trying to make the most of their domination, England then fell into an error-strewn time. In all they made 17 unforced errors in the 24 minutes they had possession – that's a mistake every one minute 25 seconds.

Wales made five unforced errors in their 23 minutes of possession – a blunder every four minutes 31 seconds.

There was a difference in the cause of the errors by Scotland and England. Scotland's was due simply to bad play while England's seemed to come as a result of confusion and a lack of understanding about what they were trying to achieve.

Whereas the influence of Warren Gatland was characterised by a strong defensive display at close quarters – either side of half-time Wales stopped two driving mauls from five-metre lineouts – England did not give an impression of being comfortable despite their surging start.

The doubts about Brian Ashton's team were exposed in the second half by players who should know better: Balshaw and Gomarsall were both charged down by Phillips; Wilkinson welcomed Cipriani into the Six Nations with a misdirected long pass; and Sheridan, Vickery, Tindall and Gomarsall played hot cake with the ball. Hence the mistakes. Wales capitalised on these faults to score 13 points. Hook's footwork to beat Sackey and put Byrne away and a flawless six converted goal kicks helped give Wales this historic win.