Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Robshaw: We must start better

Captain Chris Robshaw says England need to come out of the blocks more quickly
Captain Chris Robshaw says England need to come out of the blocks more quickly

Chris Robshaw has demanded England must eliminate the sort of suicidal start that once again left them swimming against the tide against France on Saturday.

It took just 31 seconds for Les Bleus to score their opening try in a 26-24 defeat in Paris that means Stuart Lancaster's side must win all their remaining games to stay in RBS 6 Nations title contention.

Yoann Huget, aided by a kind bounce, touched down following a blunder at the kick-off and added a second after Tom Wood was stripped of the ball to help establish a 16-3 lead.

A similar scenario unfolded against New Zealand last autumn when Julian Savea breached the whitewash after just 105 seconds as the All Blacks powered into a 17-3 lead.

On both occasions England displayed character to put themselves in winning positions, only to slip to shattering late defeats that Robshaw views as unacceptable.

"We can't give teams a big lead like that and this is something we must address," the Harlequins openside said.

"You put so much energy into getting yourself back in front that it knackers you out a bit. It takes quite a lot to get back in front.

"We can't give teams so many points, we need to be the team that imposes ourselves. There can't be any more lessons - we are in a championship."

England's fightback was founded on tries from Mike Brown, who somehow outmuscled three blue shirts to wriggle over, and impressive debutant Luther Burrell.

Seemingly destined for a deserved victory, they were instead stunned by a brilliant 77th-minute try from elusive substitute Gael Fickou that was converted by Maxime Machenaud.

England were otherwise able to reflect on an encouraging 80 minutes that saw rookie Jack Nowell grow in stature after a shaky start and produced an improved attacking performance.

"The bounce of the ball went against us and it's tough to take. Credit goes to the guys for getting back in it," Robshaw said.

"You never know what you will get with the French and that is what we found out at the end. They took the try well.

"The way we looked after the ball at times was much better than in the autumn.

"Our attack was much improved on the last time we were all together, but unfortunately the final thing didn't quite work for us.

"We did cough the ball up a little bit too easily and that takes a lot out of the legs."

Wing Jonny May could miss Saturday's clash with Scotland because of a broken nose and a doubt hangs over lock Courtney Lawes, who departed with a head injury in the second half.

Robshaw knows any further slip-ups will result in the end of England's title aspirations, but takes comfort in Wales losing their Six Nations opener last year and yet winning the tournament.

"We have got to draw inspiration now from what Wales did last year," he said.

"Of course we are in a very tough situation. We know the challenge and the uphill battle we face. It can be done.

"The dream of winning every game is not there any more but we showed great potential against France.

"It's not about learning now, it's about kicking on. We came with one mission and unfortunately we didn't get it."

England team management have confirmed May will see a specialist on Monday to assess his broken nose, and his prospects of facing Scotland.

Better news came with confirmation that Lawes will recover from his injury, confirmed as a bruised cheekbone, in time to feature.

In a statement, England management said Lawes had sustained "no structural damage and will be available for selection".

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