Lancaster hoping Ireland falter

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Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Stuart Lancaster refused to concede defeat in England’s pursuit of the RBS 6 Nations title despite their chastening 19-9 collapse to Ireland in Dublin.

The Red Rose crashed to a first loss of the tournament after being kicked into submission by the reigning champions, who remain on course for the Grand Slam after amassing a 10th successive victory.

Fixtures against Scotland and France complete England’s Six Nations and head coach Lancaster insisted they are still capable of wrestling the crown from Irish hands.

“Absolutely we can still win the Six Nations. There are very few Grand Slam teams,” Lancaster said.

“In the majority of years you end up with a team winning the championship that has lost one game along the way.

“We have two games at home and it’s critical we get as much out of those as we can.

“Ireland have two games away and Wales are still in the hunt having won at the weekend. Wales against Ireland will be a big game, but we can’t control that.”

Lions fly-half Jonathan Sexton plotted England’s downfall, pulling the strings masterfully and decorating his performance with a 14-point haul comprised of four penalties and a conversion.

The knock-out blow was landed in the 53rd minute when Conor Murray directed a crossfield kick into the right corner where Robbie Henshaw out-jumped Alex Goode to score the game’s only try.

England’s indiscipline will be Lancaster’s chief focus when the inquest into an alarming defeat begins this week and questions will also be asked why they were unable to nullify the champions’ kicking game.

“A key point was our discipline in the first half. I think it was an 8-4 penalty count at half-time,” Lancaster said.

“Ireland played a very effective kicking and territory-based game. If you’re ill-disciplined they can build the score.

“Some of those breakdown penalties we needed to make sure we didn’t commit because Jonny Sexton will just bang them over as he did in this case.

“We definitely stressed discipline before the game. Craig Joubert is a very good referee who refereed us in the corresponding game last year.

“We know he’s very sharp at the breakdown and we certainly stressed that point. There were some things we needed to be better at.

“When you are playing against a side of the calibre of Ireland you know it will be an arm wrestle decided on small margins. In games like that experience counts and we lost the key moments.

“A lot of our lads haven’t played at that intensity. That’s Test rugby. I thought Ireland deserved it.

“Ireland played pretty much as we expected. They played a smart game. I think 44 kicks in open play tells a story. But it’s effective. There are different ways to skin a cat and win a game of rugby.

“I thought we defended their set plays well and our scrum got more dominant as the game went on. But the damage was done when they scored their try.”

Lancaster defended his decision to leave Danny Cipriani on the bench even though England needed a spark of inspiration with George Ford unable to impose himself.

“I was thinking about bringing Danny on but there comes a point when you are making substitutions through the team and you feel you don’t want to make too many,” Lancaster said.

“It’s not a reflection on our trust in Danny at all. He’s a quality player but we’d already made changes in the second row, at six, nine and 12. I thought the guys who came on did well.”

Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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