Lancaster urges England to up their game
LONDON - England coach Stuart Lancaster has told his side they will need to sharpen up their act when they face the world’s best sides over the coming weeks following a 54-12 thrashing of Fiji.
Lancaster saw an inexperienced side that contained 11 players with 13 caps or fewer each outscore Fiji by seven tries to two at Twickenham on Saturday as England launched their European autumn campaign with a record margin of victory over the Pacific Islanders.
Charlie Sharples, playing in place of suspended wing Chris Ashton, scored his first two England tries and Saracens full-back Alex Goode again showed signs of his play-making ability at Test level.
But with Australia (November 17), South Africa (November 24) and world champions New Zealand (December 1) all visiting Twickenham in the coming weeks, Lancaster knows his side cannot afford a repeat of Saturday’s sluggish opening quarter.
England also made a mess of several potential tries and, while that didn’t matter much against Fiji, such carelessness is sure to cost them dear against world rugby union’s top three nations.
“Next week and the week after and the week after that we are going to have to be more clinical,” Lancaster said.
“It was good to get the win. We struggled a bit for 10-15 minutes.
“We didn’t convert every opportunity but we were pleased with the opportunities we did take.
“It was a good start but we recognised the quality of the opposition that is coming around the corner. We will have to step up a couple of levels next week.
“Our cohesion is growing and that is what we will need.
“Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are cohesive and organised, and we will have to be at our best.”
Ashton will be available to face the Wallabies but is by no means guaranteed a place, with Sharples unfortunate not to score a hat-trick against Fiji.
“Chris Ashton is back so there are selection decisions to be made. It’s not a nightmare at all,” Lancaster said.
“It’s a great position to be in. Charlie did what we wanted him to. He was excellent in every area.”
Turning to Goode, Lancaster said: “Alex played like he does for Saracens, he was excellent under the high ball and with his ability to move the ball around.
“It was nice for Alex. He did well in the third Test in South Africa (which England drew 14-14 in Port Elizabeth in June) and he has maintained that form.”
Up front, debutant hooker Tom Youngs starred in a commanding England pack and forwards coach Graham Rowntree said: “I thought he had an outstanding game,”
“He had a 100 percent line-out and made a huge impact in the loose. To have a game like that on his debut is exciting for us.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
England were a man down early when Danny Care was yellow-carded by referee Glen Jackson, on the advice of a touch judge, although sin-binning the scrum-half for a ‘dangerous’ tackle on Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa seemed harsh.
Lancaster said he expected Care to avoid additional disciplinary action over the incident.
“It was a bit unfortunate, a bit harsh. I don’t think there will be a citing or should be.”