Wales Viewpoint: Toothless Dragons fall on their own swords

Jenkins' picks were disastrous and got what they deserved in historic drubbing by fired-up England. By Jonathan Davies at Twickenham
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The Independent Online

There's a saying in Wales when things don't go according to plan: it's back to the draining board. Well that's certainly the case after this painful drubbing by arampaging England.

And if England had shown a cutting edge to match their power up front, Wales would be straying dangerously near the plug-hole.

As it was, they have slumped to their biggest defeat by their oldest rivals and you just can't measure how demoralising that is. It is all very well to say that it was a largely experimental Welsh team, but that can't be an excuse.

What on earth was there to be gained by by putting out a shadow team so lacking inthe tools required to match England in the forwards, where you knew their strengthwould be?

Given the tumultuous history of this fixture you should never treat a visit to Twickenham as a fact-finding run-out. Most of us fearedthe consequences of that, and it was even worse than we had suspected.

Our next game is against Argentina, and the one after that is against France. Unless the Wales coach, Gareth Jenkins, can repair the shattered morale of his squad veryquickly, Wales will be facing another calamity or two.

For England it was a massive boost. They've always needed the foundation of a powerful pack to build on, and they certainly have that now.

Unfortunately, they didn't learn much about the suitability of their backs to tackle a concerted World Cup campaign. The scrum-half Shaun Perry played very well and Jonny Wilkinson was excellent and bore an encouraging resemblance to his former self, but outside them there weren't many questions answered, because they had so little chance to show what they could really do.

Andy Farrell and Danny Hipkiss had a couple of spurts but were unable to wrest much attention from the forwards. The English pack might benefit from the presence of Tom Rees to add balance to their back row, but they can go on to their next warm-up match against France with plenty of motivation. They will, however, need to develop a more clinical and penetrating style behind the scrum. They'll probably handle their group matches in the World Cup without many problems, but they'll have to be a lot better when they come up againstSouth Africa.

The Welsh backs were also unable to show much, either, but that's because they saw hardly any decent ball. I don't think the third-choice half-back pairing of Gareth Cooper and Ceri Sweeney had any chance at all of showing their worth behind a pack that won them hardly any worthwhile possession.

They were smashed in the scrum and their line-outs were generally a mess. Centres Gareth Thomas and Tom Shanklin played well in defence, which was the only area they were to figure in well in, and Aled Brew showed plenty of fire.

I thought Brew was veryunlucky to be sin-binned for his charge on Hipkiss. I believe he went for the ball, and although it merited a penalty, a yellow card was harsh.

Colin Charvis was one of to few to come out with any credit. Alun Wyn-Jones was the best player in Wales last season but I wonder if his best position is in the second row rather than flanker, where he was tooeasily rounded by Perry, who is not the quickest in the world.

It wasn't a good week for Wales from the start. I can't fathom why they made such a big point of sending the injury-prone Gavin Henson back to his club. I understand that hewasn't shaping up very well in their French training camp and that his claims to a place suffered because he is too big and has lost a couple of yards.

But why make an issue of it at that stage? They could have kept working on him until it was time to reduce the squad numbers and then omit him. In that way they could have avoided much negative publicity.

There's a lot more negative publicity they will have have to live with between now and when they meet Argentina in two weeks' time.

Welsh fans will already be bracing themselves for that.

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