Ben Youngs demands more from England team-mates

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The Independent Online

England may have taken a giant step towards the Grand Slam with Saturday's 17-9 victory over France, but that did not stop Ben Youngs from blasting his team-mates.

The Leicester scrum-half was disappointed with his own game and he demanded higher standards across the board after an error-strewn performance.

England's pack, led by the indomitable Tom Palmer and Tom Wood, eventually subdued France in a game of brutal intensity to seal a third straight win.

But Youngs still aimed a volley at the forwards and he wants an immediate improvement before England face Scotland in a fortnight.

England are chasing a first RBS 6 Nations clean sweep since 2003.

Youngs said: "A win against the French is priceless, especially against a very good French side that came here to dominate and bully us and they simply didn't do so.

"But some guys are disappointed with their personal performances, me included. We demand high standards.

"There were a lot of us frustrated at half-time and getting a bit angry with each other. I gave the forwards a bit of a rollicking.

"I was running into spaces and there were holes around me and no-one was running off me. It was a little frustrating because you think what the hell are you doing?"

"It is pretty simple. If I run out and the bloke comes to tackle there is usually a hole on my shoulder. We have to make sure our guys start reading that otherwise I will be getting even more frustrated."

Youngs was not the only player to react critically, with fly-half Toby Flood suggesting England's confidence may even have taken a knock by the performance.

But they should also remember how far this team have come in a short space of time.

This victory was a step forward for a side who failed to live with South Africa's physicality in the autumn.

"Against the Springboks we got bullied and lost the game. This time we came out on top, which shows we are learning to deal with different game plans and styles," Youngs said.

"It shows we are moving in the right direction because this team wasn't happy with that performance.

"We know we have more to give, we should have closed the game out sooner and scored more points."

The last time England were unbeaten after three matches was back in 2003, when team manager Martin Johnson was captain and they went on to seal the Grand Slam before winning the Rugby World Cup.

England have a fortnight to prepare for Scotland's visit to Twickenham before they tackle Ireland in Dublin on the final weekend of the championship.

Johnson refuses to contemplate a Grand Slam yet.

"No-one has mentioned those words in my presence. That's crazy. If you are trying to win anything, you concentrate on what you need to do to win games, otherwise you are setting yourself up for a fall," Johnson said.

Flanker James Haskell recognises England have a golden opportunity to achieve something special and he urged them not to waste it.

"We have won three games. Everyone knows Scotland would love nothing more than to put us back in our box," said Haskell.

"Everyone is looking at the next two big games. We have two massive obstacles in our way and what a shame it would be to let it go with a bit of complacency."