Chris Robshaw's relief at England reprieve
Chris Robshaw believes England's resilience during a gruelling autumn has proved they posses the mettle to survive the pressure-cooker environment of a home World Cup.
Victory over Australia at Twickenham on Saturday salvaged respectability from an otherwise disappointing QBE Series characterised by stagnation with the countdown to next year's global showpiece now spanning only eight games.
Comprehensive defeats by New Zealand and South Africa on the opening two weekends extended their losing run to five Tests, placing the squad under a cloud that has only been partially lifted with success against Samoa and Australia.
Toppling the Wallabies, who alongside Wales are group rivals at the World Cup, was imperative to stem the flow of criticism and England's forward power and set-piece dominance delivered an autumn-saving victory.
"Relief" was Robshaw's reaction to the result and while the captain applauds the tenacity of his team-mates, he knows standards must improve if the hosts are to be a force at their own tournament.
"The pressure hasn't been a bad thing, it's just great to see how we have responded to it," said Robshaw, who was outstanding against Australia. "Now we know that if it happens again the guys aren't going to crumble, they are going to stand up to it. They're going to find ways of winning.
"We all know we didn't start well - for whatever reason, we're not quite sure - but beating Australia was a great way to finish the series and that will give us confidence going into the Six Nations.
"If we had lost and looked back over this series having lost three out of four it would have been tough to take, especially being here at Twickenham, and especially with what's happening next year.
"But we know it's not all smelling of roses. We know that when you get to a World Cup you can't afford to lose one or two games because then you are packing your bags and watching everyone else on TV."
Traditional strengths were enlisted to dispatch the Wallabies, who were pulverised at the scrum and throttled out of contention by the tight five, yet were immeasurably brighter in attack.