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Lancaster wants stylish England

Stuart Lancaster has demanded England turn on the style against Italy on Sunday and take another significant step on the road towards a first red rose Grand Slam in a decade.

England took their attacking game to a new level in their opening victory over Scotland but since then, as lock Geoff Parling described it, they have relied on character to beat Ireland and France. Lancaster wants more than just sheer bloody-mindedness this weekend, with England anxious to fix the scrum and lineout frailties which have crept into their game.

"If we win through character alone this weekend I will take it but I won't be happy with it," Lancaster said. "You need character because it underpins everything in rugby but ultimately if you are going to keep winning matches at the highest level you need to be hitting eight or nine out of 10 in all areas of your game."

He added: "You need to dominate physically and take your opponents to places they don't want to. I think Geoff was suggesting that if we are to keep winning that is where we need to be.

"We want to put in a performance that reflects where we think we are. We think we are an improving team with strength in depth and, from what I have seen, a motivated team.

"We are in a good place going into this game. We have won three from three and we want to make sure we finish it off."

England already boast a positive points difference of 17 and can tighten their grip on the RBS 6 Nations title with a victory this weekend. Lancaster has made five changes from the 23-13 win against France, with only the selection of Toby Flood for the injured Owen Farrell forced upon him.

Flood will link up with Danny Care at scrum-half and Mako Vunipola gets his first Test start at loosehead prop while hooker Tom Youngs and flanker James Haskell have been recalled.

Although Lancaster has urged England to finish the Grand Slam job over the next eight days, the players are anxious not to look beyond the Italian challenge.

The Azzuri beat France on the opening weekend and they boast a handful of world-class players, including the returning captain Sergio Parisse.


From Belfast Telegraph