- Former England star looks forward to "special" World Cup clash
- Pressure can make mincemeat out of world's best – Robinson
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Former England star Jason Robinson believes that, although the 67-3 demolition of Romania will fill Martin Johnson’s charges with self belief, facing Scotland in Saturday's Pool B decider will be a different proposition altogether.
Robinson, who won 51 caps for his country at both wing and full back, played an integral part in England’s 2003 RWC triumph and started by lauding the manner in which the current backline found form last weekend in Dunedin.
“It was one-way traffic and it was nice to see both wings get hat-tricks as England took it up a level and were more clinical,” he said, before singling out former Sale Sharks teammate Mark Cueto for special praise.
“I actually sent Mark a message before the game saying, ‘No pressure, but I scored four tries last time I played against Romania.’ Then, when he’d got three in the space of twenty minutes, I thought he was going to score eight!
“Games like that breed confidence but now England need to step up. Scotland will believe that they can win and (head coach) Andy Robinson will have got stuck into his players all week.”
Having appeared in five Calcutta Cup ties over the course of his illustrious international career – crossing the whitewash six times – Robinson is very familiar with world rugby’s oldest fixture and was certain that the Eden Park clash would only be decided by very small margins.
“Scotland will want to make a dogfight out of it,” he continued. “A lot of emphasis will be on territory and set-piece because neither side will rush off into a 20-point lead. One bit of brilliance could change everything.
“It might not be until the 70th minute that somebody makes a break or kicks a crucial penalty. Patience is a must but it is not always that easy because pressure can make mincemeat out of the very best.
“This is always a very tough contest with a lot of passion, history and feeling. Both sides will fancy their chances because they play against each other so much and the World Cup twist makes it even more special.”
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Should England manage to beat the Auld Enemy in Auckland, they could progress to the knockout stages on the same side of the draw as Wales, France and Ireland – three sides they have beaten in the last year either during the RBS 6 Nations or in a World Cup warm-up match.
However, though the signs look good, Robinson suggested that it would be foolish to look beyond this weekend’s challenge.
“Obviously England would rather face (the northern hemisphere teams) than New Zealand, but it will be a case of game by game for Johno. Only when they have got this out of the way will they even think about the quarter-finals.
“Scotland will be thinking exactly the same thing, though, which is why this is such a key game, probably mentally more than physically. England will need character to come through because they know that, if they don’t pull a performance out of the bag, they will be going home.”