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Competition for places key after Italy win says Lancaster

13 February 2012

  • England coaches pleased with comeback victory in Rome
  • We want competition for places – Lancaster
England interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster speaks to the media ahead of the Italy clash

Photo: Getty Images 

England interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster was delighted with his side’s hard-fought 19-15 victory over Italy on Saturday but knows there is more work to do before the Wales clash at Twickenham on February 25.

Lancaster said he was pleased with the way the side had picked up the "tempo and intensity" of their performance in the second half and showed no sense of panic after a double strike from Giovanbattista Venditti and Tommaso Benvenuti gave the Azzurri a 12-6 lead at half time.

He paid tribute to the impact of replacements Lee Dickson and Ben Morgan who came on in the 50th minute and praised the temperament of 20-year-old Owen Farrell for his 100 per cent record 14 points to keep England’s scoreboard ticking over.

"We talked about during the week about trying to increase the tempo of the game and the intensity of the game particularly in the second half," Lancaster told the post-match press conference.

"And even though the conditions were difficult we had to be brave to be able play. And I thought the players chose to do that."

Fly half Charlie Hodgson scored a second try in as many weeks as he collected his own charge-down to score early in the second half and England backs coach Andy Farrell said it was an area that the squad worked on in training.

He said: "Of course we work on it; we spent hours and hours at the beginning of the weeks looking at kicking techniques and with our defence we want to extend it to putting pressure on the opposition’s kicking game.

"We constantly try to put pressure on every time someone is kicking the ball, whether it be from nine or ten, it is something that we concentrate on a lot."

Leicester's Toby Flood returns to the England squad this week

Photo: Getty Images 

With Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes recovering from injuries to return to the 30-man England squad, Lancaster faces a selection dilemma ahead of the Wales game.

He said: "I thought some players put their hands up today particularly so that’s part of what we will be considering – how players who were here today contributed, how they train.

"But also there is Manu Tuilagi, Toby Flood and Courtney Lawes all playing this weekend as well and as we know they are very good internationals who have played well for England.

"One of the good things about the gap between the two internationals, Italy and Wales, [is that] it gives us next week a chance to train, to draw breath, review this game but also bring in those guys during the week.

"That is a pretty important couple of training sessions for a lot of players. It is important for us because we can work on more detail but also for the players that they train well and that’s what we want – competition for places."

Lancaster said both the coaching staff and the players now needed to “invest time” to improve and build on their performance in Rome but warned: "As we expect to improve, so will every other team."