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Rugby World Cup: England skipper Chris Robshaw backed after sorry defeat

By Duncan Bech

Tom Youngs insists England are fully behind Chris Robshaw following a calamitous World Cup defeat that has thrust his captaincy back under the spotlight.

Stuart Lancaster's men were stunned 28-25 by Wales at Twickenham and must topple Australia on Saturday if they are to avoid becoming the first host nation to fail to reach the knockout stage.

The Pool A table would have made for better reading had England landed a 78th-minute penalty from the touchline to draw the match, but Owen Farrell was not given that opportunity after Robshaw opted for an attacking line-out instead.

Farrell stated later that it was a collective decision, but there were shades of South Africa in 2012 when Robshaw made the wrong call and again the Harlequins openside has been criticised.

When asked if Robshaw would now have the weight of the world on his shoulders, Youngs replied: "Not from us he won't.

"It's not about rallying around Chris, it's about rallying around each other and making sure we're going in the right direction."

After four successive runners-up finishes in the RBS Six Nations, England ended the biggest match of Lancaster's tenure aghast at yet another near-miss having led Wales by 10 points with half an hour remaining.

Dan Biggar kicked a 50-metre penalty that secured Warren Gatland's men the most precious of victories, but it was the slack defending that enabled Gareth Davies to cross under the posts and indiscipline that offered Biggar repeated sight of the posts that did the real damage.

"With a 10-point lead, you've got to look back and see where it went wrong," Youngs said.

"There was so much at stake and we have a massive challenge next weekend so we have to get rid of what happened and move on.

"I'm very convinced we can still make the quarter-finals. What gives me that belief is all the hard work we've done.

"We're a tight-knit group. It's a challenge and one we'll accept and look forward to."

Instead of issuing a statement of intent, England must now conduct an inquest into their Twickenham implosion ahead of the Australia clash.

Flanker James Haskell said: "People are going to be harsh and it's going to be pretty cut-throat in the next few days after throwing away what was potentially a victory.

"Our discipline cost us the game and that is really disappointing. We have cost ourselves and that is why it is more frustrating.

"The Australia game is now going to be like a final. Everyone involved will have to imagine it's the last time they pull the white shirt on. We have to leave it all out there."

Along with a disbelieving Twickenham that reacted to a compelling match by generating one of the best atmospheres experienced at the home of English rugby, second row Geoff Parling questioned how victory became defeat for Lancaster and his men.

"I'm gutted. We felt very comfortable at half-time. We had all the momentum in the first-half and our set-piece was going really well," Parling said.

"We were really getting stuck into them, but the second-half was completely the opposite. Our discipline was poor, we didn't consolidate our points and they got back in it."

Meanwhile, it appears likely that Wales will need to summon squad replacements, with particular concerns about Scott Williams and Hallam Amos, which could mean a call-up for someone like experienced Gloucester back James Hook.

Coach Shaun Edwards said: "There is definite potential that we could lose more. We just have to show the resilience we have shown so far in the competition."

Wales are considering their position following a second-half incident when England flanker Tom Wood's swinging boot made contact with Liam Williams' head and forced him off.

Wood has apologised to Williams on Twitter, although the matter could now attract the match citing commissioner's attention.

"There was definitely contact between part of Tom Wood's body and Liam's head," Edwards said. "It is something we are going to look at.

"It is obvious there was some contact with the head. We did lose one of our best players. We will just look at that later."

Belfast Telegraph


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