- Downbeat Alex Goode discusses Wales defeat with RFUtv
- “They hit us hard at the set piece and at the breakdown” said full back
An obviously downcast Alex Goode emerged from the England dressing room and said there was a quiet disbelief among the players after the record defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Unbeaten England arrived at the Millennium Stadium in search of a first Grand Slam since 2003 but were blown away by a powerful and purposeful home side, who retained the RBS 6 Nations title with the 30-3 victory.
Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert was the beneficiary of Wales’ second half superiority at the breakdown and scrum, racing clear to score his eighth and ninth Test tries in just 18 matches.
Goode, who performed solidly under a barrage of accurate kicking from Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny, said the defeat was difficult to take given the magnitude of the game and their good preparation.
“It is a painful defeat, it was pretty quiet in the dressing room, everyone is pretty down,” said the 24-year-old. “We came into the game in good spirits, confident and prepared well but it wasn’t to be.”
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Wales back row pair Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric caught the eye in creating Cuthbert’s tries, Warburton with ferocity at the tackle area for the first and acceleration through a sleeping defence for the second, while Tipuric delivered both scoring passes.
But Goode highlighted their collective work at the breakdown as the foundation for the victory, slowing England’s ball down and preventing them from executing their game plan.
Wales defend with 14 men in the line and England intended to manoeuvre their sizeable forwards around but without quick ball Goode said their powerful defenders could get set and display their physicality.
He said: “Wales played very well, they hit us hard at the set piece and at the breakdown, slowed our ball down and didn’t allow us any quick ball, which made it very difficult. They had 14 men [in the defensive line], big guys obviously and we wanted to play with tempo and run them around, but we didn’t really have that chance.
“They slowed down our breakdown, which allowed them to park up and then get off the line and knock us back, which meant we couldn’t get any momentum or continuity.”
While it is difficult to think positively after a record defeat to bitter rivals, especially with the added heartache of a Grand Slam chance gone at the final hurdle, there was a steely determination to improve from Goode.
He added that the players will remember the hurt of the defeat and use it to drive them to improve: “We’ve got to take the positives, we’ve got to get better from it and learn. We’ll remember this experience and become a better team, it’s as simple as that.”