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There was also the Northampton factor

Posted on 10 August 2010

There was also the Northampton factor.Ian McGeechan was coach of the club and the Lions and the Saints provided two stand-offs for the touring party, Townsend and Paul Grayson. It was nice to show people that I could run and pass as well as kick.”When they met at the dinner the other night, Dawson reminded Jenks of that extraordinary afternoon – cruel treatment for a player without whose laser-like goal-kicking in South Africa, the Lions would never have grounded the Springboks.It was also in South Africa that Dawson’s star rose to such heights it was almost up there with the Southern Cross. When I realised I was going to score, I had a beaming smile across my face I couldn’t believe it, to be quite honest. There was no one to pass to.”There was no one to beat but Jenkins. “It was one on one and I thought I’d take him on,” Dawson added “It was the right option. The line got a little bit wider as I got past Jenks and although I managed to trip over my bootlaces I stumbled on.

Clive Woodward, the England coach, was the speaker and other guests included Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent and Robert Howley and Neil Jenkins.
When Dawson scored a staggering try, literally at one point, in the rout of Wales, he ran half the length of Twickenham, aided and abetted by Howley and Jenkins. The former lost his footing and fell and the latter was left for dead. “We were trying to keep the game moving and taking a tap penalty is part of that,” said Dawson, who came on as a replacement for Kyran Bracken “Suddenly I was into a gap and I just sort of carried on. Somehow it is reassuring to know that in the clinical, almost curfew-conscious world of modern rugby, the new-age professional can still enjoy a night on the town. In between playing a prominent role in England’s victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last Sunday, and preparing for yesterday’s Tetley’s Bitter Cup semi-final between Northampton and Saracens, Dawson and Gregor Townsend (club colleague, Scotland adversary and Lions partner) attended a London Business School dinner in the City.

MATTHEW DAWSON couldn’t stop yawning. That control, however, as we saw against France earlier in the season, is no longer as absolute as it once was.. This must be frustrating for Woodward because, individually, his backs are quality players and in Paul Grayson they now have a first-class director of operations at fly-half.Jeremy Guscott, manacled to the bench for most of last season, is not quite the free spirit of old when his blazing talent could alter the course of a match, and the uneasy feeling persists that the changes Woodward has made have not yet removed England’s dependency on the absolute control of their forwards to win matches. So far this season England have used their backs as cosmetic enhancements to improve the margin of victory rather than, as the Welsh did at Lansdowne Road, to secure the victory.There have been times, notably against France and during the first half at Murrayfield, when the English backs have lacked the creative touches to break down well-marshalled defences. He knows that, against the southern hemisphere countries when the best that England can expect is parity up front, it takes a sophistication beyond raw strength to win.

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