Sud­den death sce­nario now as Red Rose na­tion head for Auck­land af­ter im­pres­sive dis­play Our World Cup starts now, says Eng­land’s John­son

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - Rugbyunion sport -

ENG­LAND de­camped from Dunedin to Auck­land yes­ter­day with one fierce mes­sage from man­ager Martin John­son ring­ing in their ears: The World Cup starts now.

Eng­land are un­beaten at the top of Pool B fol­low­ing Satur­day’s 67-3 rout of Ro­ma­nia – but Ar­gentina’s 13-12 vic­tory over Scot­land yes­ter­day has thrown the cat among the pi­geons.

All three teams now head into the last week­end of round-robin ac­tion chas­ing two quar­ter-fi­nal berths.

With Ar­gentina ex­pected to beat Ge­or­gia hand­somely, Eng­land and Scot­land will ef­fec­tively be play­ing for their World Cup lives at Eden Park on Satur­day.

If Scot­land lose they go home. If Eng­land lose with­out a bonus point they would be for the chop. The knock-out stages have come a week early.

“It is not like play­ing Six Na­tions rugby or au­tumn se­ries rugby. Every­thing is mag­ni­fied in the World Cup,” said John­son, who lifted the tro­phy as Eng­land cap­tain in 2003.

“Scot­land will be play­ing to stay in the group. “It will be a scrap. “We did the job (against Ro­ma­nia) and we go into the last week with three wins, which is where we wanted to be. This week it all starts in a way.

“It’s a men­tal thing this week, get­ting our­selves ready for the game. It’s go­ing to be a big one.”

The only time Eng­land have pre­vi­ously met Scot­land in World Cup com­bat was in the 1991 semi­fi­nals at Mur­ray­field when they won 9-6, thanks largely to a late penalty miss from Gavin Hast­ings.

Satur­day’s meet­ing will have the added spice of Andy Robin­son, Eng­land’s as­sis­tant coach for that 2003 World Cup tri­umph, now be­ing in charge of Scot­land.

“It’s go­ing to be big­ger than a Six Na­tions game,” added Eng­land’s de­fence coach Mike Ford.

“We’ll have to win. We’ll be judged on only one thing – if we’ve won. We’ll be ready for it.”

De­spite the des­tiny of the group be­ing in the air, Eng­land re­main favourites to qual­ify in top spot.

The last time Eng­land lost to Scot­land by eight points or more – which would be their dooms­day sce­nario on Satur­day – was in 1986 in a 33-6 de­feat at Mur­ray­field.

If Eng­land can get past Scot­land they are likely to meet France in the quar­ter-fi­nals and then ei­ther Wales or Ire­land in the last four.

It is a Six Na­tions route to the fi­nal. Eng­land are Six Na­tions cham­pi­ons.

Although se­nior player Mike Tin­dall played down the rel­e­vance of that re­cent achieve­ment, he is con­fi­dent Eng­land are ready to han­dle the step up in in­ten­sity that will greet them this week.

York­shire­man Tin­dall also be­lieves that mov­ing up to Auck­land – the epi­cen­tre of the 2011 World Cup – will help fo­cus Eng­land’s minds on the se­ries of win­ner-

It’s a men­tal thing this week, get­ting our­selves ready for the game. Martin John­son, Eng­land man­ager on

Satur­day’s en­counter with Scot­land.

takes-all games that lie ahead.

“It was very quiet in Dunedin in terms of the peo­ple around. When you get back to Auck­land and see ev­ery­one it re­ally kicks in how im­por­tant the games are now be­com­ing,” said Tin­dall.

“We ex­pect our­selves to be good and ex­pect our­selves to get bet­ter each time we play.

“It was nice to put a few things right against Ro­ma­nia but then again we’ve got to step it up for a stronger Scot­tish team next week.

“Then it grows and it grows and hope­fully we’ll grow with it.

“We’ve won nine of our last 11 games. We’re not in that bad a place in terms of re­sults.

“The World Cup is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent thing. It’s com­pletely unique.

“You have to make sure you are fully pre­pared and switched on and if you do that then we be­lieve we can beat any other team.

“World Cups are some­thing Eng­land have a good his­tory of. Hope­fully that will con­tinue.”

Eng­land are one of only three teams to have con­ceded just one try so far this tour­na­ment and former Castle­ford Tigers rugby league player Ford has al­ready be- gun his in-depth anal­y­sis of Scot­land, although he ex­pects them to throw some­thing new into the mix.

“It gives us an­other level of con­fi­dence to take to Scot­land,” said Ford.

“They’re play­ing some great foot­ball and I ex­pect them to throw some­thing dif­fer­ent in for us.

“The break­down caused us a lot of prob­lems against them in the Six Na­tions and they’ve car­ried on and gone to a dif­fer­ent level.

“That’s go­ing to be a mas­sive fo­cus.

“Robbo’s got a bag of tricks. If you think of ev­ery move a team can do, I think Scot­land have ex­e­cuted it in their last two games. He’s got the full ar­ray of tricks,” he said.

“You’ve just got to dou­ble guess him a lit­tle bit.” Eng­land: Fo­den, Ash­ton, Tuilagi, Tin­dall, Cueto, Wilkin­son, Youngs; Cor­bisiero, Thomp­son, Cole, Dea­con, Palmer, Croft, Moody, Haskell. Re­place­ments: Mears (for Thomp­son, 50), Wilson (for Cole 41, Cole for Cor­bisiero, 58), Shaw (for Dea­con, 58), Wood (for Moody, 60), Wig­glesworth (for Youngs, 60), Flood (for Wilkin­son, 41), Ar­mitage (for Fo­den, 51). Ro­ma­nia: Vlaicu, Ci­untu, Cazan, Du­mi­tras, Apos­tol, Dum­brava, Sirbu; Nere, Ze­bega, Florea, Popir­lan, Pe­tre, Burcea, Ratiu, Tonita. Re­place­ments: Ni­co­lae for Vlaicu (71), Gal for Cazan (42), Calafeteanu for Sirbu (43), Tincu for Ze­bega (50), Ion for Florea (61), Ma­covei for Pe­tre (52). Not Used: Ianus. Ref­eree: Ro­main Poite (France).

PIC­TURE: LYNNE CAMERON/PA

TRY ROMP: Eng­land’s Mike Tin­dall is tack­led by Ro­ma­nia’s Daniel Ianus in Dunedin. In­set, Mark Cueto shrugs off Ste­fan Eu­gen Ci­untu as he dives over the line to score a try.

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