England full-back Alex Goode has admitted the side must be more “ruthless and clinical” if they are to beat Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
England full-back Alex Goode has admitted the side must be more “ruthless and clinical” if they are to beat Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and so claim their first Six Nations Grand Slam in a decade.
Table-toppers England maintained their unbeaten record against Italy, but failed to score a try or the first time in 19 Tests during a faltering 18-11 win at Twickenham.
Instead, committed defence allied to reliable goal-kicking saw England home.
However, there is a sense England – who scored three tries during a shock defeat of world champions New Zealand in December and four in their Six Nations opener against Scotland – have retreated into their shells the closer they've got to a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003.
Since that 38-18 Calcutta Cup win over the Scots, England have managed just one try in their last three matches.
Wales, meanwhile, have not conceded a try in their last three Tests. The Dragons' hopes of back-to-back Slams were dashed by a first round loss at home to Ireland.
If Wales win by eight points this weekend they will retain the title, while a win by seven points would see the Championship decided on try count, with the Welsh currently two tries better off (seven to five) than England.
But while an England defeat would scupper their Slam bid, losing by fewer than seven points would still see them crowned champions.
Goode, one of several England backs who failed to shine in an attacking sense against Italy, admitted the team had fallen short against Italy but insisted they could yet finish the job against a resurgent Wales – 28-18 winners over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
“We are confident in the group and the way we are playing, we just need to be more ruthless and clinical,” said Goode.
“The opportunities we had in the first half we didn't quite put away. I was culpable for that.
“If you don't get your points on the board when you are on top, it gives them a lot of emotional energy and it was tough for us.
“The good thing is we are getting ourselves in a position to score.
“If we weren't getting close we would be worried. Finishing is something we need to get better at, but the good thing is that our attacking framework is getting us into a position to score.”
And Goode insisted the fact England were on a five-match winning streak, dating back to their sensational 38-21 win over New Zealand, would stand the team in good stead at what is sure to be a raucous Millennium Stadium.
“Winning is a habit. We took a lot of confidence from the New Zealand game and we brought it into the tournament,” Goode said.
“We could have scored more tries but we have improved and I think game by game we have got better as a group.
“Obviously the changing room is not ecstatic, but we got a result against a tough team who have beaten the French this year when we have not played well.
“Wales will have the passion and the hype and intensity behind them but we went to Ireland and met fire with fire there. We will take it to Wales.”