Youngs refusing to get carried away


Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Ben Youngs has sought to diffuse the euphoria over England’s stirring victory in Cardiff by reminding his team-mates their RBS 6 Nations title quest is still in its infancy.

Wales were dispatched 21-16 in a compelling curtain raiser to the 2015 Championship at the Millennium Stadium, but the scoreline failed to reflect the second-half dominance of Stuart Lancaster’s men.

With some justification assistant-coach Andy Farrell hailed “a proper Test win – 21-16 didn’t do us justice”, as the 30-3 rout endured two years ago was avenged to elevate England above Ireland as new title favourites.

Italy at Twickenham on Saturday are the next assignment with a pivotal trip to Dublin looming two weekends later, so scrum-half Youngs knows the importance of keeping the opening day celebrations brief.

“This is round one. It’s a great result and we are really pleased, but we will be straight back on it on Monday. We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Youngs said.

“In 2013 we took a pasting in Cardiff when we probably got ahead of ourselves, so we have got to make sure that we learn from that and focus on one game at a time.

“To come here and get the result we have been working hard for is really pleasing, so it’s a great start.

“But Championships aren’t won in the first round, it’s about what you do afterwards that counts, so we have got to build on this.”

England trailed 10-0 inside the opening 10 minutes as an early Welsh onslaught, inspired by the fervour of their home fans, threatened a repeat of the collapse in 2013.

But Mike Brown set up a try that was brilliantly finished by Anthony Watson and although England trailed 16-8 at the interval, there were clear signs of the revival to come as the relentless James Haskell carried the fight up front and George Ford managed the game to near-perfection.

When Jonathan Joseph span and powered his way over early in the second half, it signalled the tide had turned and with their pack leaving their calling card all over the Millennium Stadium, England were in complete control.

Haskell, who was edged for official man of the match by Ford, bulldozed a path to the line only to crash into the right upright before Dave Attwood had a ‘try’ disallowed for a block by Nick Easter earlier in the move.

“Both teams were going at it and I thought it was a great game. To get back in the way we did was really pleasing. Ant Watson scored his try and we began to get belief and stick to our game-plan,” Youngs said.

“We went 10-0 down and although we had a lot of time, it wasn’t the ideal situation. At the same time, it was a test of character and I thought the boys showed that in abundance.”

England had been decimated by injury heading into the match and Youngs added: “This win shows the strength in depth we have at the moment.

“The most pleasing thing is that we are building experience ahead of the World Cup and that is probably the big picture, but obviously we want to do as well as we can in this tournament.”

The tone for England’s defiance was set in the tunnel when captain Chris Robshaw ordered his players to stand firm as officials asked them to make their entrance on to the pitch.

Wales were still in their changing room and Robshaw sensed his team would be kept waiting on a bitterly cold night if they succumbed to the hosts’ mind games.

“We knew Wales would make us wait, we were fully aware of that. They would have made us wait for five minutes,” Youngs said.

“We just knew we were going to be standing in the middle for a long time, with lights out and all that, because they have done it before.

“It’s always a great game between England and Wales. You can either crumble in that atmosphere, or thrive, and I thought the guys thrived.”

Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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