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Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Jeremy Guscott column

Jeremy Guscott

Former Bath, England & Lions centre

It was disappointing and sad to hear supporters at Twickenham booing on Saturday when Australia's fly-half Matt Giteau was lining up his kicks at goal - people should be above that.

Giteau, as a person and a player of his skill and calibre, doesn't deserve it.

For me booing when someone is kicking is unacceptable for any reason - it is bad sportsmanship, and players and supporters should not want to be associated with it.

If it was because of unhappiness at some of the referee's decisions, it still doesn't excuse it.

By all means jeer the ref and roar when he gives a decision your way, but there should be no place for booing the kicker in rugby.

It capped a bad day all round for England. They were very poor against Australia and deserved to lose the game.

Danny Cipriani troops off the field after being replaced at Twickenham
Cipriani was replaced late on against Australia after a mixed afternoon
The expected dominance in the scrum never materialised and the penalties England gave away meant that Australia never had to work hard for most of their points.

Danny Cipriani looked decidedly average and it will be a very hard selection call for Martin Johnson whether to persevere with him or bring in Toby Flood.

He did make a couple of breaks which were brilliant, but for me this doesn't overshadow his non-presence in defence, where he really looks uncomfortable.

There is a tough call to make. Does Johnson teach Cipriani a harsh lesson because he has not dominated?

Danny will take any setback, because of the kind of player he is - he's never going to think he cannot do it.

But his defence is a concern. He looked timid and teams will spot that. Need I point out he will be trying to tackle Ma'a Nonu in two weeks' time?

Johnson also has some other selection issues to address.

Tom Palmer and Phil Vickery had no impact, so bringing them in in place of Nick Kennedy and Matt Stevens should be questioned.

For the last 15 minutes Riki Flutey looked like his place depended on it, but he should be playing like that for the full 80 minutes.

Like England, the rest of the home unions - bar Wales - all got taught a lesson in how to win a Test match and must now realise how much more work is needed to get even close to the Tri-Nations teams.

Scotland fly-half Phil Godman reflects on defeat by South Africa
Scotland will be bitterly disappointed. It hurts coming off the field knowing you have missed a golden opportunity

Wales were clearly always going to beat Canada, it was a matter of how many points and the standard of rugby they produced.

The score was average and the performance could not have pleased Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley.

However, if you make wholesale changes to your team, I don't believe you can expect continuity in performance.

Before the Scotland v South Africa match, who would have thought the Scots would have been 10-0 ahead of the world champions at half-time?

If I'm honest I didn't think Scotland would be in the game at half-time, let alone winning.

If Dan Parks and Phil Godman had kicked their penalties, Scotland would probably have won this match and on overall commitment they deserved it.

It's no consolation for Frank Hadden and his team but for me they improved from the week before, when they were beaten by the All Blacks.

Scotland, for the most part of this game, showed real composure, particularly in scoring their try.

Mike Blair broke clear and kept hold of the ball, when last week he was attempting the miracle pass. After his break the ball was recycled and then Godman made a clean break and, but for amazing defence, would have ran clear to the line.

Scotland then went through four or five phases, retaining the ball and not panicking, and finally Nathan Hines went over for the try.

Towards the end Scotland attacked from their own half through Ali Hogg and Blair and made it pretty close to the South African line.

But Scotland then reverted to type and couldn't show enough composure or inventiveness to breach the line for the winning score.

They will be bitterly disappointed. It hurts coming off the field knowing you have missed a golden opportunity.


Ireland for me escaped a real hiding because this New Zealand team has been chopped and changed over the last three weeks and Graham Henry's best team, which was playing, has not had enough game-time together.

In the first half the All Blacks had so much territory but couldn't convert it into points because of missed penalties and basic handling errors, which is very uncharacteristic.

Ireland didnít really look like scoring too many tries against the All Blacks which should be a concern. I thought scrum-half Tomas O'Leary had a reasonable game and with more games will really trouble teams with his pace around the fringes.

It was a strange game with New Zealand making so many mistakes and not finishing moves as we know they can.

Ireland never really seemed to settle down into their style of play, which has traditionally been kick for position and keep the ball close to the forwards.

The game was very stop-start because of all the errors apart from when in the second half New Zealand scored two tries in five minutes.

Right now New Zealand attempt to play a kind of rugby most teams dream about; they play with pace, they take their fitness as a given, which it should be at this level, and they trust in their skills.

If the All Blacks get it all together during their last two matches, Wales and England will get walloped.

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see also
England drop to fifth in rankings
17 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 14-28 Australia
15 Nov 08 |  English
Ireland 3-22 New Zealand
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Hadden upset at Scots' surrender
15 Nov 08 |  Scottish
Scotland 10-14 South Africa
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales 34-13 Canada
14 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Jeremy Guscott column
09 Nov 08 |  English
Johnson passes first test
08 Nov 08 |  English
England 39-13 Pacific Islanders
08 Nov 08 |  English
Wales 15-20 South Africa
08 Nov 08 |  Welsh

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