Lancaster praise for Ford


Published: Sunday 23rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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England boss Stuart Lancaster admits it will be difficult to leave George Ford out of next week’s game against Australia after the fly-half was instrumental in the team’s 28-9 win over Samoa on Saturday.

Ford was handed his first international start for the Red Rose, with Owen Farrell shifted to inside centre, and the Bath number 10 was the home side’s stand-out performer in a mediocre performance at Twickenham.

Kicking 13 points off the tee, Ford was the inspiration for England’s second try as he punted the ball cross-field to Anthony Watson, who drove to the line before feeding Mike Brown to touch down.

Lancaster’s side will undergo a stiffer examination against Australia next Saturday and the England head coach admits Ford has done everything he can to retain his place.

“We’ve got that decision to make – certainly from my point of view he’s been waiting patiently for his chance and he’s put a real marker down for next week without a doubt,” Lancaster said.

“It’s a big responsibility for a young player to come in and run a game and I thought he did it well.

“As a team we probably needed to play more in their half in their first half and that was the message at half time but he was incisive with his line breaks, he’s got a great eye for a gap.

“His kicking game was good – obviously he was given the responsibility to kick goals and for touch – he took some hits, he showed s great deal of bravery and I thought it was a really positive first game for him.”

England’s victory, thanks to Brown’s try and two more from Jonny May, brings to end a miserable run of five consecutive Test defeats.

The hosts, however, were laboured for large parts of the contest and Ford was one of the few positives to come from another patchy display.

“Like Stuart said it was very accomplished,” England attacking skills coach Mike Catt said of Ford’s performance.

“The nice thing was that we gave him the responsibility of the goal-kicking and everything with it and he’s fitted in well.

“Him and Owen are both good team players and it’s about the team and not those individuals.

“All credit to him, he’s bided his time and he played well in difficult circumstances too.

“Samoa were a hell of a side and came hard at the breakdown, it wasn’t easy.”

England will need to more ruthless against the Wallabies, having spurned a handful of excellent opportunities to make the score-line more emphatic.

Brown spilled the ball in the first half with Watson free outside him while Marland Yarde and Dave Attwood were both guilty of letting chances slip late on.

“We need to improve on that (taking chances) and understanding the conditions and how the game is going,” Lancaster said.

“It was a shame we didn’t take those opportunities at the end – whether it was Marland Yarde’s break from the 15-man line-out or more importantly, George’s line break at the end to give Dave Attwood an opportunity.

“They’re the ones we need to take against Australia.”

Samoa’s preparations for the game were overshadowed by an ongoing row about their treatment at the hands of the Samoa Rugby Union.

England’s players appeared to show their support for the tourists after the final whistle as the two teams knelt down and formed a circle together in an impressive show of solidarity.

“After every game we come together to show the solidarity we have,” Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i said.

“We go out there for 80 minutes, bash each other up but after the game we’re all friends and start chatting to each other.

“We asked England if they would come and join us and they were happy to join the circle.”

He added: “The support we have received has been awesome. We’ve used it as motivation – waking up in the morning and seeing everyone supporting us and showing the love they have for us.

“Our biggest statement was to come out and play well and get a result – we stuck in there for 40 minutes but in the last 40, we just got run off our feet.”

Published: Sunday 23rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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