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Just use a whetstone and drink a couple of potions (swallow and blizzard preferred), click through the dialog and skip the cutscene with esc key. It really isnt a hard fight, and the whole ordeal takes 2 minutes tops.
The last point you made pretty much explain why you're having trouble.... drink potions, and use a whetstone.

Are you also playing on the hardest difficulty? Don't do that if you don't understand the mechanics.
I personally hated the fighting in the witcher 2. I rather loved the fighting in the witcher 1.
At first the fighting in the witcher 1 was very strange. But with time I have improved and the fun in the fighting and risen.
On the contrary, in the witcher 2, the fights were strange start to finish. They are a kind of mixture between action and RPG, are not good enough for the action and are also quite cumbersome. An example of the fighting done well, it's Batman, but I think the style turn based RPG is much more suited to the witcher.
The first game is done quite well from this point of view, is a turn-based combat, the beginning is messed up but with time you learn how to fight. There is plenty of opportunity to plan but also many opportunities to act with potions during the fight.
The weakest point of the first game are the animations and the game engine that contains many small bugs that make the gaming experience worse than it could be.
On the other hand the second game has many similar defects, the animations are too long and not enough fluid. Also in the second game, the effects of the combo become cutscenes taken from another angle, very annoying.
Yea, I preferred the combat in The Witcher 1..

There wasn't an unmanageable situation in the game with proper planning and technique.