Matt Dawson column: ‘Underwhelming England fail to entertain but are two from two’

Winning is key but England have been very public about wanting to entertain and improving the atmosphere at Twickenham.

I didn’t feel entertained on Saturday and I’m all right with that, because England’s victory over Wales means have won two games out of two in the Six Nations and that is where they would have wanted to be.

But they have come out of their bubble to say they care how the fans feel and that they know what the fans want.

That is fine, but it gives the public the right to reply.

The feeling afterwards in the Twickenham car parks and the hospitality was that it was a little bit underwhelming. That is not taking away from how the boys have worked really hard for a win.

Wales gave a great account of themselves given where they were in the first 40 minutes of this Championship, when they were 20-0 down to home at Scotland, while England were reduced to 13 men at one stage on Saturday and showed some great defence.

But the performance was not necessarily how they said they would do it. It was not raining heavily and there were loads of opportunities to play in a different way.

I don’t think any of the players of my generation ever aspired to be an England player to entertain the nation, it was about winning games.

The modern generation of England players feels like they want to entertain the public but you have to be able to stand by that.

Some of the opportunities you get in the game give you the chance to entertain, when they would ordinarily be box-kicking the ball.

I don’t think the fans care too much about making the pre-match walk to the dressing room longer, but they do care about being dominant in every facet of the play rather than scraping through by a couple of points.

If they go out there and win games with physicality, endeavour and striking at the right time, I can guarantee the fans will go wild. What excites the fans is them turning up to Twickenham and thinking no visitors win here.

England must have had half a dozen chances to entertain and they chose not to.

One of their really good defensive sets in the first half ended up with them turning the ball over and securing possession 20 or 30 metres from their own line.

They passed it left to Elliot Daly and fired it down the pitch but Wales were off their feet. They had the ball for several phases and England defended so well and then turned the ball over.

A feint kick or a step off the right and there was no way Wales would’ve been able to cover back. They are the kind of moments the responsibility falls on the individual to be entertaining.

We have a bit of work to do on that but I think we will get there and new captain Jamie George will change that mentality, but it’s about having an attacking mindset as an individual and thinking about making a break in the tiredness and the pain of Test match rugby.

Signs of defensive improvements

There was definitely a step up in defence.

There was more consistency in how they defended. Wales were punching themselves drunk because England were lapping it up and driving Wales back time after time, so there was some really good stuff in the performance.

There was one Welsh break in the second half when Rio Dyer went down the right and it was similar to Italy’s second try last week.

England could not recycle defenders and were all looking inwards – Daly makes the wrong call and Wales just went through.

I’m sure they are practicing it but if you’re going to blitz you have to recycle defenders, reload and mark up.

You have to force the opposition to throw the pass over the top but you have taken out all the cover, so it just leaves a one on one and George Ford came across to make a good tackle on Dyer.

‘It should be Ford’s team now’

There were parts of Ford’s game which I liked.

He is so instinctive, he has the skills to react and has that little bit more X-factor about him.

It should be his team now and the shackles should be off. He often makes really good decisions but I think he has to dominate the game more and dictate where England are going to go.

He proves he can do it when he uses his instinct, like the cross-field kick Dyer had to run into touch five metres out in the first half and the 50-22 in the second.

England should be trying to put him into those positions in the open field because he will carve it up but you can’t do that if you’re just box-kicking for large parts of the game.

In the forwards, Ben Earl is the star player at the moment. If you could only pick one player in the Six Nations to fill a whole team it would be him.

He took another load of carries but I don’t want to see him at number eight. I want to see him at seven or even at six. I would like to see the balance slightly change.

He is such a fabulous player but I want to see him out wider. I don’t think we have anyone in the country who is better at eight, but when he is there, it’s a little bit too close-quarters.

At full-back Freddie Steward was so solid in every part of the game.

He made a couple of breaks, he distributed in a way we don’t always see and was magnificent in the backfield.

Matt Dawson was speaking to BBC Sport’s Mantej Mann.

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