England resilience heartens Robshaw ahead of rugby World Cup
30 Nov 2014
Source: Yahoo News
By: Julian Guyer
London (AFP) - England captain Chris Robshaw believes the way in which the side beat Australia in their "must-win" November finale at Twickenham was an encouraging sign ahead of next year's World Cup on home soil.
Saturday's 26-17 success, against a Wallaby team they will next face in the pool stages of the World Cup, was a badly needed victory for England following defeats by New Zealand and South Africa earlier in November that were more conclusive than the three-point margin in each case suggested.
With the previous week's victory over second-tier Samoa widely expected, England knew they had to beat Australia to ensure their November campaign wasn't a write off.
Tournament hosts England have eight games between now and the start of the World Cup to fine tune their preparations for the global showpiece.
Victory over Australia was built on England's customary scrummaging strength, with Harlequins flanker Robshaw outstanding at the breakdown.
"The pressure hasn't been a bad thing, it's just great to see how we have responded to it," said Robshaw.
"Now we know that if it happens again the guys aren't going to crumble, they are going to stand up to it. They're going to find ways of winning.
"Beating Australia was a great way to finish the series and that will give us confidence going into the Six Nations.
"If we had lost and looked back over this series having lost three out of four it would have been tough to take, especially being here at Twickenham, and especially with what's happening next year."
- Front five force -
England's pack, missing six British and Irish Lions, dominated Australia at the scrum and Robshaw paid a special tribute to the forwards in front of him.
"We're extremely pleased with how the front five have gone all through the series," he said.
"We've played some of the best packs in world rugby over the past four weeks and are extremely pleased of how the front five have done us proud.
"You look back at the history of English rugby and we have always had a good pack to go back to."
The same has not often been true of England's backs, with silken midfield runners such as Clive Woodward and Jeremy Guscott very much the exception to the rule.
Certainly the attacking threat posed by Australia centres Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Toomua on Saturday exceeded that of their England counterparts Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt.
Midfield has been a problem area for England ever since 2003 World Cup-winner Will Greenwood retired, with the Twelvetrees-Barritt combination their third centre partnership in four games.
Ideally, England coach Stuart Lancaster would like to resolve the team's midfield difficulties before the World Cup begins, yet it is still possible to make a case for how his side might win the tournament without the need to play free-flowing rugby.
Nevertheless, Lancaster is still aspiring to an all-round game, with world champions New Zealand providing the template.
"What I'd like to have at our disposal, like the All Blacks have, is a different strategy for different opposition," he said.
"Wet-weather rugby is part of that in the World Cup and we didn't play the conditions as well as we could have done against New Zealand and South Africa.
"Against Australia our plan was put to the players, the players applied the plan and we won the game."
Lancaster added: "That's the most positive thing, whereas in the first two games we deviated a little bit from the plans.
"Perhaps, with hindsight, I should have been a little bit stronger on making it clear what the plan is."