It summed up the evening.
After four successive runners-up finishes in the RBS Six Nations, England ended the biggest match of Lancaster’s tenure aghast at yet another near-miss having led Wales by 10 points with half an hour remaining.
When they scored their game-changing try, it was the scrum-half on the wing, Lloyd Williams, who reeled in the years and delivered the first chip of its kind since Didier Camberabero created the “try from the end of the world” for Philippe Saint-Andre at the same venue in 1991.
“I’d done two, one with England, played the warm-ups, and then back with Quins to do another pre-season!” “At half-time we were in control and had momentum”.
Wales became the first northern hemisphere side to beat England in a RWC match in England and joined New Zealand (1991 opening match, 1999 Pool Match) and Australia (1991 RWC Final) in beaten England on their own ground at the tournament. To lose from there was criminal.
“They are all in or around the breakdown”.
On a night of such World Cup frustration against an obdurate Welsh side, the flyhalf stood out as a goliath, vindicating Lancaster’s faith in him, while all around had criticised his recall in place of the perceived more attacking threat of George Ford.
Dan Biggar kicked a 50-metre penalty that secured Warren Gatland’s men the most precious of victories, but it was the slack defending that enabled Gareth Davies to cross under the posts and indiscipline that offered Biggar repeated sight of the posts that did the real damage.
Michael Cheika, the Australia head coach, said he still considered England to be favourites for the game, because of home advantage.
“Obviously with a 10-point lead, you’ve got to look back and see where it went wrong”, Youngs said. Substitutes are supposed to add to the team but this one scuppered it. Just because someone is on the bench it does not mean you have to get them on. It’s something to jump on.
“We’ve talked a lot about getting the tackler away, we put a massive emphasis on that, it’s been a hot penalty in this World Cup“.
But there were enough people on the pitch to have made their views clear to the captain – he might have to make the final choice – but others could and should have had their say so it’s not all down to him.
But, realistically, England now have to beat two-time world champions Australia if they are to have any hope of avoiding an early exit. It is a huge ask, and when you concede a dozen penalties, nigh-on impossible. “I have had some fantastic wins as England coach and I have had some heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching losses, and that was right up at the top”.
“That kept them in the game”.
“We have to learn from that. We weighed up the options, we wanted to go for the win”. We have to get better, simple as. Of course we will batten down the hatches internally and focus on the job because we have to.
“I wouldn’t wish to take anything away from Wales’s heroic performance”.
“I am ready to go”. “Irrelevant of who you are and what game you are in, to strike that under that pressure is impressive”.
But Woodward deflected the blame from captain Chris Robshaw and hit out at the substitutions made by coach Stuart Lancaster. Let’s enjoy the game.