Stuart Lancaster: England must raise game to win in Wales in Six Nations decider



Stuart Lancaster was sharper and brighter than his team when he suggested that they will need to be a damn sight better than this to achieve a first Grand Slam in a decade in Cardiff next weekend.

Pre-match cheerleaders had England building a frightening points-difference advantage at Italy's expense, heading into the final Six Nations round against Wales on Saturday.

In reality, head coach Lancaster was relieved at winning a game which, at one stage, Italy threatened to secure their first victory against England since their initial meeting back in 1991.

Lancaster admitted: "We take the win, but I thought our accuracy was not the best. We said all week that Italy would give us a huge challenge.

"Now we are being asked if we can win a first Grand Slam in a decade against Wales next week, and my answer is that we have to play better than that to achieve it.

"We will take a lot of lessons from that, and know that we face a fantastic occasion at the Millennium Stadium."

Lancaster had attempted to prepare the nation for the reality that Italy have progressed seriously since becoming the sixth nation in the tournament.

But he also confessed to disappointment after a distinctly average display by his men before a capacity Twickenham crowd.

"The win was something of a relief," Lancaster added, "because while we controlled areas of the game, we failed to take the chances we created. We came close to completing moves, but these are things we can work on heading into a short, six-day turnaround. We have a few injuries to monitor – Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury, for example – but we will be looking at how we can better take the opportunities we are creating.

"But we are not overly depressed. We created opportunities but failed to convert them. The tournament always makes life more difficult than supporters anticipate."

The England defence coach Andy Farrell was ready to take on board the mixture of win and woe, confessing: "The emotion and the passion in Cardiff will be at another level, and we all know that. We are still a very young and inexperienced team at Test level, and that reality will be tested to the highest level against Wales. We remain the meanest defence in the Six Nations Championship, and we are coming ever-closer to that level in terms of finishing," Farrell added.

Having warned all week that expectations were getting out of hand, the England captain, Chris Robshaw, said: "We were under no illusions how hard it was going to be, especially after our battle to win in Rome last year. Being honest, we were not great against Italy, but it is four wins from four and all to play for in Wales.

"Some of what we planned for the game did not work on the day, but we defended well and we go to Wales with a definite target. You have to accept that the Six Nations is a real contest, that no game is anything other than a real battle, and Italy had us defending for the outcome at the end."

Italy's captain, Sergio Parisse, said: "We came to Twickenham after two poor games to produce a really good effort at [securing] a first win against England.

"The more we achieve this level of rugby, the closer we get to our ambitions. I hope we can add to those with a first win against Ireland [on Saturday].

"We take the defeat, but there will come a time when Italy will win such close games, and that is the measure of our development."

England's World Cup-winning former coach Sir Clive Woodward warned: "Despite the pre-match hype, this was always going to be a tough game because Italy are a far better team than they receive credit for. England's bits and pieces didn't work on the day, but next week will be another world. People talk about points difference, but you go to Wales to win, not worrying about the margin. England have the belief to achieve that win, but they will have to be up a level to succeed."


Get Adobe Flash player



A poster by Durham Constabulary
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine