Alun Wyn Jones Stuart Barnes’ talking points

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Alun Wyn Jones New Zealand's World Cup chances are one of Stuart Barnes' key talking points

New Zealand’s World Cup chances are one of Stuart Barnes’ key talking points

New Zealand being “eminently beatable”, Wales being in the World Cup mix and England’s reflections from Cardiff all feature in this week’s talking points column.

1.Wales are ranked No 1 in the world. I don’t care about it and neither does Warren Gatland but a lot of people out there seem to. If Wales lift the Webb Ellis Cup on November 2, then we are talking.

Wales are Grand Slam winners. That is tangible. They have victories over Australia and South Africa (the latter it must be said, with weaker teams than the ones that faced New Zealand). The rating system is predicated predominantly on results – ergo Wales deserve to be the world’s top-rated team. It is a pity there is no prize for this achievement.

The ultimate prize is, of course, the World Cup and even winning that doesn’t prove a team is the best in the world. All the current ratings tell us is that Wales, with 15 wins from their last 16 games are very hard to beat. That counts for plenty and puts them in the mix, at least in my particular rugby book.

Alun Wyn Jones

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Watch highlights of Wales’ 13-6 victory over England at the Principality Stadium

Watch highlights of Wales’ 13-6 victory over England at the Principality Stadium

2.If you write (as I did on Friday) that winning these warm-up games matters, you risk being ridiculed. Yet at full-time the Welsh manager was happy to admit that the win was an important one for Wales.

Back-to-back defeats against England – plus what would have been six losses in the last seven games against their rivals – would have psychological permutations. So says Warren. I am only the messenger.

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Hear the thoughts of Warren Gatland after his side’s triumph over England

Hear the thoughts of Warren Gatland after his side’s triumph over England

I wrote ahead of the game that England also needed the win. The theory was based upon the fact that Eddie Jones said that the two aspects of England’s play that would offer him the most satisfaction – if they were successful on Saturday – would be brutal dominance at the gainline and thinking their way through the sticky situations.

Had they managed both these challenges, they would have won. They failed on both counts and lost the game. It’s not the death knell for England’s World Cup but neither is it the ‘progress’ as George Ford claimed post-match.

Alun Wyn Jones George Ford's performance didn't astound Stuart Barnes on Saturday

George Ford’s performance didn’t astound Stuart Barnes on Saturday

3.The England skipper – Ford – did not enjoy a particularly rewarding afternoon. He kicked conservatively for touch and inaccurately in attack. In contrast, Wales returning starter, Dan Biggar, had a field day.

Biggar’s double cross-kick for the game’s only try was sharp-witted, his high balls were accurate and his defensive play aggressive. He is not the most elegant of players but there’s no doubting his ability to rise to a challenge.

Post-match he had a little dig at 1970s Welsh winger, JJ Williams, who, it seems, criticised him or his game (I don’t know) pre-match. Williams had every right to offer his opinion. We don’t want ex-players to be merely grey-haired cheerleaders.

4.If five minutes stick from what was not a massively memorable game, it would be the first five of the second half. Alun Wyn Jones was everywhere, making monstrous tackles, carrying with effect, slipping lovely little offl

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