Clive Woodward (file pic). PA Archive/PA Images
missed opportunity

Woodward laments England's failure to kick goals in All Blacks defeat

The World Cup-winning coach added that current boss Eddie Jones ought to feel “cranky”.

CLIVE WOODWARD HAS blamed decisions to decline kickable penalties for England’s agonising 16-15 loss to world champions New Zealand at a rainswept Twickenham on Saturday.

Woodward, England’s coach when they won the 2003 World Cup final, added that current boss Eddie Jones ought to feel “cranky” with the defeat.

England swept into a shock 15-0 lead on the back of tries by Chris Ashton and co-captain Dylan Hartley.

But the All Blacks clawed their way back either side of half-time, a try from full-back Damian McKenzie followed by 11 points from the boot of fly-half Beauden Barrett.

“There were lots of plus points, but they lost the game,” Woodward told BBC Radio on Sunday.

That was a game England should have won and I’d be pretty cranky this morning if I was in Eddie’s shoes,” added Woodward, whose England side beat an Australia team coached by Jones to win the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

“They lost by one point and you don’t get many chances to beat the All Blacks.”

There was drama four minutes from time when it appeared impressive England flanker Sam Underhill had scored a match-winning try but French referee Jerome Garces, acting after the television match official intervened, disallowed it for offside.

But Woodward said the ensuing controversy could have been avoided if England had gone for goal rather than opted for attacking line-outs with successive penalties in the 48th and 49th minutes.

When Kyle Sinckler knocked on from the kind of driving maul that led to Hartley’s try, England’s chance to extend their 15-13 lead had gone.

Barrett compounded that error when he kicked what turned out to be a match-winning penalty from a similar position in the 60th minute.

Jones backed his players, saying: “They feel the game, we don’t. We see the game.”

- ‘Big mistake’ -

But former England centre Woodward, with less than a year to go until next year’s World Cup in Japan, said they should have been under instruction to put points on the board at every available opportunity.

“Players do have to take the decisions on the pitch, but you can also do a lot of preparation off the pitch,” he said.

The conditions were awful. At 15-13 up and with the clock going down, we had a chance of adding the points to go 18-13 up. We went for the line-out. That was a big mistake.

“If you are five points up, you drop a goal and you’re eight points up and you win the game. Build the score.

“Everyone is harping on about the try or no try by Sam Underhill, but for me not to take those points was a big error,” Woodward insisted.

“We’ve got the best goalkicker in the world in Owen Farrell. He’s a 100% goalkicker (although Farrell did see his attempted conversion of Ashton’s try hit the post). 

“And Elliot Daly can kick long ones.

“These leadership decisions on the field of play are absolutely key, especially as the clock counts down. They are what win or lose you a World Cup and we need to get a little bit better.

“Our calls against New Zealand were wrong. I think every player, if they were sat down in the classroom in the cold light of day, would say kick the goal.”

 © AFP 2018

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