England vs Australia: Ben Morgan will add spice to Six Nations, says Stuart Lancaster

England 26 Australia 17

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The Independent Online

England head coach Stuart Lancaster praised a “storming” performance by two-try Ben Morgan and predicted the Gloucester No 8 would be “hard to shift” from the position when the Six Nations Championship starts in February.

Morgan began this series on the bench behind Saracens’ Billy Vunipola, but he scored as a substitute against South Africa two weeks ago and put one in each half past Australia as a starter yesterday. “He is absolutely storming back,” Lancaster said of England’s man of the match. “He had to wait his time but what has pleased me most is he has stepped up as a leader after a tough season at Gloucester last year. He has just turned 24 but his inner belief has grown, and he has maturity and experience.”

England last night stood fourth in the world, one below where they started the autumn, with Ireland having overtaken them. “We’ve still got lots to work on,” said Lancaster. “But we played intelligently, kicked ball at the right time, turned Australia, and used our set-piece to put pressure on them.

“The scrum was excellent, as was the maul. But that was the game today – you have to play rugby in different ways.”

Stuart-Lancaster.jpg
England coach Stuart Lancaster

Lancaster also rounded on critics of England’s backline by pointing out the backs have scored 21 of the team’s 26 tries this year. “There is quiet satisfaction because we were under pressure externally but internally we were rock solid,” he said.

Morgan said: “The old cliche is you have to earn the right to go wide. Before, we had tried to find that shape too quickly. This time we were a lot more direct for the whole game, we had to go at them. It will help us build into the Six Nations and gives everyone a positive feeling for the next few months. The Six Nations is the last big tournament before the World Cup so it’s crucial we keep improving and moving forward.”

England captain Chris Robshaw harked back to the losses against New Zealand and South Africa when he said: “It has been a tough four weeks but I am so proud of the guys. This was more fluent and the pack put their hands up. But I am sure Wales will give us a warm welcome [in England’s next match].”

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