- England head coach encouraged by aspects of Australia victory
- “The form book goes out the window against a side as proud and passionate as Argentina” – Lancaster
Despite the somewhat disjointed manner of England’s 20-13 victory over Australia at Twickenham, Stuart Lancaster insists he will take plenty of positives into the second QBE International against Argentina.
As Lancaster had hinted in the lead-up to the Wallabies clash, the breakdown and contact area were key on Saturday – the hosts’ pack truly unsettling their opponents with rapid ruck-speed and defensive urgency in the opening stages.
And while three uncharacteristic penalty misses by Owen Farrell meant that strong start was not converted into a significant lead, the England head coach was pleased that lessons from last year’s 20-14 defeat to the same opposition seem to have been learned.
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“That is a pretty competitive Australia team with a potent backline that has been together a long time,” he said. “We had some inexperienced guys, some on their first starts at Twickenham, so I’m delighted to get the win.
“I thought we grew in ascendency throughout the game – obviously we didn’t take our chances from a goal-kicking point of view, so we didn’t build the buffer. We then conceded a soft try, but I thought the character was outstanding.
“The commitment by the forward pack and desire to get off the line and hunt them down at the breakdown was a key component to us winning this game. We got beaten in that area this time last year, so we’ve taken a big step forward.”
Although England’s backline found fluency and line-breaks hard to come by over the course of a fractured Test match, Farrell’s run just before the hour mark provided a decisive try.
Before praising the impact of an experienced bench – featuring the likes of Dylan Hartley and Ben Youngs – Lancaster tipped Billy Twelvetrees and Joel Tomkins to improve with time together as a midfield partnership.
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Should Twelvetrees get another chance at inside centre, he will be able to call upon the happy memory of a good performance in the 32-3 victory in Salta first Test this June – an occasion that clearly taught England a great deal about the Pumas.
“They defend differently [to Australia],” added Lancaster. “They go harder at the edge of breakdowns and have a very strong scrum, so I do think they’ll come at us in different ways.
“They’re a tough side to play against as we found out in the summer – it took us until past half-time on both occasions to get on top in the game.
“You have to play what’s in front of you and at the time we played some really exciting rugby in great conditions and deserved the win. This one is a different game with different context – they have some players coming back and so do we.”
“The form book goes out the window when you are playing a side as proud and passionate as Argentina. They’ll have a point to prove.”