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Brian Moore offers few crumbs to Robinson

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    Brian Moore offers few crumbs to Robinson

    <H1>Victory is just a stay of execution </H1>

    @@@@SPAN =storyby>By Brian Moore@@@@/SPAN>

    <DIV style="FLOAT: left">@@@@SPAN =d>Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="COLOR: #000">1:32am GMT@@@@/SPAN>21/11/2006@@@@/SPAN></DIV>

    Few people at Twickenham last Saturday will have seen the fascinating and hugely telling cameos that came after England's win over South Africa. Most were exultant at seeing their team's timely victory, avoiding a record eighth defeat and after all 'a win is a win' – well isn't it?
    Joe Worsley put his hands together in mock prayer and looked to the Almighty (God that is, not Rob Andrew), Francis Baron pumped his fists in the foyer of the Spirit of Rugby room and belting out of the Tannoy was The Jam's That's Entertainment.
    It all made for a surreal atmosphere and 30 minutes after the match I was unsure how to call what I had just seen. Then I saw David Campese.
    Campo, the arch destroyer of all things English; the man who fell in love with himself at an early age and who has remained faithful to this very day; often a caricature of Pom-bashing. The very sight of him was a jolt, he didn't even have to say anything because I knew what he was thinking. It was at that point the vicarious joy and relief I was feeling evaporated and I thought – this is like celebrating getting life, instead of the death penalty.
    The heart of the players could not be faulted. They dug in and recovered from a sizeable deficit to literally drive their way over the Springbok line to victory; but a cold review of facts, not emotion, is required to assess sport.
    South Africa left at home at least nine world cup players, three of whom have won the IRB player of the year. They squandered at least three gilt-edged try-scoring chances in the first half as their backs scythed through England with regularity and they failed to pick a reliable kicker. Had this last fact been addressed it would, on its own, have won them the match because they missed 11 points from the boot.
    Yes I know you can only play what is in front of you, but a valid analysis of performance cannot be made without recognition of the strength of the opposition.
    Did we see the development of any discernable pattern? Was there a suggestion that the backs were beginning to acquire that crucial cutting edge? Could the forwards show that they understood the basic technicalities of how to drive a maul? I would dearly like to say yes, but I can't.
    Above all, one passage of play stands out. England put together one attack that must have had nearly 20 phases of play and yet they did not manage to get over the gain line, never mind the try line. Give credit to tremendous Springbok defence, but you cannot ignore the ineffectuality of the threat.
    Individual efforts from Martin Corry as a player and leader, Josh Lewsey as a defender and Worsley as a work-horse were major performances but they cannot hide the lack of direction from the half-backs who have been outplayed by their opposite numbers three weeks in a row.
    Nor can it excuse the lack of tactical nous and excruciatingly poor execution of kicks from several England players.
    Having seen Francois Steyn, the Springbok full-back, nonchalantly drop a goal from the half-way line, you would have thought that this alone would have persuaded any English defender to make sure their kick found touch, but not a bit of it. The second South African try was set up by a sliced kick that ceded the attacking opportunity.
    It appears that after a drink- fuelled night a spirit of realism has set in among England's critics, which is in stark contrast to that of anyone directly