Lancaster not getting carried away

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Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Stuart Lancaster insisted England’s 21-16 RBS 6 Nations victory over Wales in Cardiff would have no bearing on their World Cup meeting in September.

England went into the Championship opener as underdogs having suffered a raft of injuries but they fought back from a 16-8 interval deficit to run out worthy winners.

Bath pair Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph scored tries and outside-half George Ford kicked 11 points as Wales wilted under England’s second-half pressure – but Lancaster was quick to play down suggestions his side had struck a psychological blow ahead of the two countries’ World Cup duel at Twickenham.

“I don’t think it is really,” said England coach Lancaster. “It’s all about the here and now.

“We’ve got four more games of the Six Nations to go, as have Wales, and we’ve got World Cup camps to prepare for and decisions to make on squad selection.

“We’ve got warm-up games and there’s everything to play for.

“The World Cup is a long way off and this was about getting the victory for that young team away from home. It’s great for us in terms of belief.”

Lancaster admitted he felt extra satisfaction as England’s record 30-3 defeat at the Millennium Stadium two years ago – a result which deprived his side of the Championship and the Grand Slam – was the lowest point of his coaching career.

He said this win was among the best of his career, especially as injuries had forced him to make eight changes from the side which had ended the autumn programme by beating Australia at Twickenham.

“I remember being interviewed after the game two years ago and that was the lowest point of my coaching career without a doubt,” Lancaster said.

“We learned a lot from two years ago and drew a lot of strength from last year’s performance against Wales and the way we finished the autumn series against Australia.

“This win is definitely one of the highest points because of the pressure and emotion leading up into it and getting new combinations together.

“Whether it’s one points, two points, five points it’s all about getting the win.

“Being 10-0 down was a big hole and we closed the gap, but that Dan Biggar drop goal gave us work to do at 16-8.

“I really feel we upped our intensity and although we took our two tries really well we probably created three or four opportunities in the second half.”

Lancaster said he was delighted by the way England kept their composure and felt his power runners made the difference in the second half.

“We made a few changes but we knew we had a good side and we knew if we stuck to the plan we would cause Wales problems,” Lancaster said.

“We were under pressure to chase the game but I don’t think we did.

“We got into the right field position and the physicality of our power runners ultimately made the difference.”

Despite England’s long list of injuries, Wales coach Warren Gatland denied that his side had lost to a ‘massively depleted’ team.

Gatland said: “We are disappointed but I can’t see where you would argue that England were massively depleted.

“They have strength in depth and the players who came in did a fantastic job.

“I thought (James) Haskell was outstanding and 13 (Jonathan Joseph) as well.

“You could argue they are number one players and Tom Wood would find it difficult to get back into that team the way Haskell played.

“I don’t look at it as, ‘Are we concerned about England missing so many players?’ It is a top-level Test match rugby.

“Sometimes you play with strength in depth, sometimes you don’t.”

Wales raced into a 10-0 lead after eight minutes and seemed to have the initiative at half-time, but England dominated the scrum and the breakdown and their physical runners eventually wore down Gatland’s men.

“We started poorly at the start of the second half,” said Gatland.

“We put in a loose kick and England kept the ball for four minutes and ended up scoring.

“We then had with a yellow card and we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.

“I thought we were reasonably comfortable at half-time, but they played really well in the second half.”

Asked whether England now had a big psychological edge leading into their World Cup collision, Gatland replied: “It’s seven months away before we play that game.

“At this level you have to make sure you are accurate, unfortunately we weren’t as accurate as we should have been.

“I need to look back at some of the scrum penalties and what they were for, we seemed to be on the wrong side of that.”

Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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