- Youngs backing England's maturity to see them through in Cardiff
- Missed opportunities must be ruled out, says scrum half
Scrum half Ben Youngs is confident that the maturity of the current England crop will allow them to handle the pressure cooker of the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and help the team be more clinical in their finishing.
Youngs has started three of England’s four games so far in this year’s RBS 6 Nations, helping Stuart Lancaster’s side remain as the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
The only game the Leicester Tigers star did not start was against Italy at the weekend, a match England won 18-11 but in unconvincing fashion. The team’s failure to finish try-scoring chances has attracted a fair bit of media attention this week, but with one match remaining England are still on for their first Grand Slam since 2003.
Beating Wales in Cardiff is the final hurdle for the side and Youngs is well aware of what is required to do that having starred in England’s 26-19 win in Wales in 2011. Although Lancaster’s squad is still relatively inexperienced, Youngs believes that the players’ experience in European competitions and from the tour to South Africa last year will give them the mental strength needed to handle an away fixture against the Welsh, and that playing smart rugby will be key.
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“We have got to feed off the emotion, feed off the energy in the crowd. It’s a great place to play and hard place to play. We have had some good lessons as a young side so far; we have toured South Africa and there are some intimidating crowds there. It’s no different in Wales, you have to use that crowd to your advantage you have got to use it as energy once whistle goes. On the pitch its 15 v 15 and off you go. Of course there’s pressures with that and I am sure if we prepare right as we will do, the past experience of players will show we can deal with these situations.
“The key is the balance between playing and also playing in the right areas. We have got to have a go because we are going to be presented with a couple of opportunities and we have got to take them which we did not quite do against Italy. When we do get the opportunities we have to make sure we score and get on the board. In 2011 we squeezed Wales up front in the line out by playing right areas, kicking to corners, and being pragmatic, doing right things at the right time.”
England have scored just once in the past three games but in all four matches so far in this year’s Six Nations have managed to stretch defences and implement a good attacking strategy. While the execution has been a problem Youngs is confident that against the Welsh, England will find the accuracy to convert their chances.
“We are fully aware that when we get opportunities this weekend we have to make sure that we take them, because we only get presented with as many opportunities as we did against Italy," added the 23-year-old. "There’s a few areas that we need to work on, whether that’s just giving the final pass or just holding your depth or whatever it may be we will tidy that up over the next few days. Quite often when you review something and you look at areas you need to work on you get it spot on on the Saturday so that pleases me to know that at the weekend when we get the chances we will take them.”