Lancaster aware of need to improve


Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Stuart Lancaster admits England must curb their “youthful exuberance” if they are to salvage an autumn-saving victory over 2015 World Cup group rivals Australia.

A run of five successive defeats ended with Saturday’s 28-9 victory over Samoa at Twickenham, but the wounds left by New Zealand and South Africa in the opening two fixtures of the QBE Series will only begin to heal if the Wallabies are toppled.

Some repeated failings were evident against Samoa with missed chances and tactical naivety limiting England to only three tries against opponents distracted by a dispute with their union over mismanagement.

“We have a youthful exuberance about us when it comes to wanting to play a bit, but as the weather closed in we needed to put ball in right areas,” Lancaster said.

“Overall, the ability to play in the right areas of the field against a side like Australia will be important and we need to improve in that area.

“I would have taken coming away with that final scoreline at the start of the day.

“It will relieve some of that pressure from the outside, but equally we’ll be pretty disappointed with some elements of our game.

“We know we need to improve to beat a quality side like Australia.”

While the performance against Samoa was merely acceptable, George Ford’s accomplished full debut at fly-half is a source of genuine optimism and the 21-year-old is likely to continue pulling the strings against Australia.

Owen Farrell is expected to continue at inside centre as Lancaster gauges the twin playmaking option for a second time, with assured scrum-half Ben Youngs supplying the ammunition.

“It wasn’t a dry day and it wasn’t a game for running rugby. The set plays we used to get George and Owen going were effective,” Lancaster said

“Jonny May’s first try came off a nice link between the two of them. It was a good start, but there a lot of ‘work-ons’ for us as a team.

“It was a really composed performance by George helped by good service and delivery from Ben, who got his kicking spot on. It was a great start from them as half-backs.”

Lancaster, who revealed Courtney Lawes is a doubt to face Australia because of a knee problem, was delighted with the finishing of May, who demonstrated his devastating pace for the first of his two tries.

May’s international career appeared to be hanging by a threat after the summer tour to New Zealand, but three touch downs in as many games have earned him an extended run in the team.

“Jonny is a quick learner. It’s a big step up to go from top-end club rugby to top-end international rugby and he has taken a while to adapt,” Lancaster said.

“He responds well to coaching and responds well to positive support and encouragement. If you tell him to back himself, he backs himself. That has been the difference.”

Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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