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Pause For Thought
England Need To Be Cautious
Posted Mar 04, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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Following on from a victory that should lead them towards the Six Nations trophy, England’s thoughts will inevitably drift towards whether they are now ready to truly pose a challenge for the World Cup later on in the year. However, it’s important to make sure that they don’t get too far ahead of themselves. There will be a few things worth thinking about in advance of that tournament.
England had the rub of the green. There were a couple of very important decisions that went in favour of Martin Johnson’s team during this match. Firstly, they were extremely lucky that Nick Easter wasn’t put in the sin-bin for what was a cynical foul during one of France’s hardest attacks. Also the fact that William Servat’s throw in was deemed to have not travelled the necessary distance ended up being complete rubbish was lucky, especially with the fact that it looked like the French were about to score from it.
Whilst Chris Ashton is undoubtedly a superb finisher with a dynamite instinct, his decision making is becoming very temperamental, especially when he is under some pressure. This was the second year in a row that he has screwed up a great chance to score against France, and that means he has a problem. If he bottles it in the Six Nations, how will he cope in a World Cup final? Good as he is, English fans should be careful before hyping him too much. Only Jonny Wilkinson has gotten this much good press in recent years, and he won England a World Cup.
Whilst they should take heart from grinding out a win, England must be very aware that a more ruthless and skilful opponent such as Australia or New Zealand would have taken full advantage of what was not an outstanding performance. It is against these sub equator sides that Martin Johnson’s team should be measuring themselves if they want to perform well at the World Cup. You would rate France as being roundabout the fourth best team in the world at the moment, so they are by no means the side you’d want to measure yourself against if you were seeking to become the very best.
It seems likely that England will indeed obtain the grand slam at the very least, but if they want to once again become the best side in the world, they will need to avoid getting carried away.