Jones’s men need to show more am­bi­tion to ful­fil their po­ten­tial

Eng­land need to at­tack with speed and play with greater fo­cus to de­feat Aus­tralia next week­end

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - BRIAN MOORE

pres­sure. When Eng­land did get go-for­ward ball, they looked dan­ger­ous but the times this hap­pened were lim­ited be­cause, re­gard­less of whether it was taken one out or wider from the break­down it was a di­rect, man-on­man charge most of the time. There were lim­ited off­loads and it was sig­nif­i­cant that one try and an­other chance came from times when Mako Vunipola han­dled deftly and threat­ened to – but did not – take the ball into con­tact. This mat­ters be­cause with­out mak­ing ground af­ter the ini­tial con­tact, it is dif­fi­cult to cre­ate mo­men­tum and space to play a wider at­tack­ing game.

What should also be a source of con­sid­er­able dis­com­fort to Eng­land’s for­wards is that they con­tinue to have prob­lems suc­cess­fully driv­ing mauls, par­tic­u­larly when they come from line-outs close to their op­po­nent’s line. This is not a new prob­lem, it has been ap­par­ent for some time and it needs to be put right be­cause they are be­hind sev­eral op­po­nents at this. If they can­not be rea­son­ably cer­tain that they can con­vert penalty kicks to the cor­ner into tries, they de­prive them­selves of a ma­jor tac­ti­cal op­tion.

It was, per­haps, wish­ful think­ing that Henry Slade would step in for Owen Far­rell and repli­cate the flu­ent axis that has de­vel­oped be­tween George Ford and Far­rell. What was dis­ap­point­ing was to see Slade make er­rors that, from his Pre­mier­ship per­for­mances, we know are atyp­i­cal, par­tic­u­larly the mist­im­ing and mis­di­rect­ing of passes.

What this dis­jointed af­fair and Far­rell’s ab­sence showed is that the Sara­cen, whose tac­ti­cal ma­tu­rity has been ev­i­dent for some time, is piv­otal to Eng­land’s at­tack­ing play, whether play­ing at 10 or 12. Some­times a player’s in­flu­ence is not ap­pre­ci­ated un­til they are not there and that was clear as Eng­land’s backs failed to find flu­ency. Given the dearth of quick ball, it was not sur­pris­ing that the op­por­tu­ni­ties for Semesa Roko­duguni were lim­ited but it was also ap­par­ent that Eng­land did not make suf­fi­cient at­tempts to make the most of his at­tack­ing prow­ess. This was not a mat­ter of the way the game went, it ap­peared to be a lack of di­rec­tion and am­bi­tion.

Eng­land will have to play well to beat the Aussies next week and they pob­a­bly will. The re­turn of Maro Itoje and Far­rell and the fact that it is Aus­tralia will lift Eng­land. The ques­tion is whether that psy­cho­log­i­cal lift is matched tech­ni­cally and tac­ti­cally.

Eng­land have home ad­van­tage and Aus­tralia are at the end of their sea­son. This makes an Eng­land win more likely – they and their fans should ac­cept noth­ing less.

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