Planet Rugby

Open England delight Lancaster

09th March 2014 18:40

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Building: Stuart Lancaster

While admitting that at times his heart was in his mouth, England head coach Stuart Lancaster hailed his team's attitude against Wales.

Tries from Danny Care and Luther Burrell plus five penalties from the boot of Owen Farrell handed England a 29-18 win over last year's champions Wales.

Leigh Halfpenny kept the match close with an astute kicking performance, before dislocating his shoulder making a try-saving tackle on Luther Burrell late in the second half.

Lancaster believed his team deserved their triumph, commenting that the team's mantra of not fearing failure had ultimately resulted in success.

"I thought we did well in the first half but Leigh Halfpenny's kicking was real cause for concern at half-time," said Lancaster.

"We deserved the win and I'm delighted for the boys. It's been a great two weeks, we've worked really hard and it's nice to get the reward at the end.

"The performance is right up there. What we've tried to do with the players is remove the fear of failure and asked them to go out and play. Whilst we didn't get everything right, and sometimes your heart is in your mouth a bit, overall our intent to play brought us a reward."

Lancaster also reserved praise for England defence coach Andy Farrell, who worked with Wales boss Warren Gatland on tour with the British and Irish Lions.

Stopping the two-time champions from conceding a try will be a feather in the cap for Farrell, with Lancaster also drawing attention to how England cut out penalties at the breakdown after half-time.

"Andy Farrell is an unbelievable defensive coach and a real inspiration in our team," stated Lancaster.

"He was always going to have the defence ready for that game. We gave away some penalties at the breakdown in the first half but then addressed it.

"It's a reflection on the side that they learn quickly and once Wales had to chase the game, we felt comfortable."

England's chances of winning the tournament remain slim despite defeating Wales, with Ireland holding a significant points difference advantage, but Lancaster added that the focus was purely on putting away an Azzurri outfit that have caused England problems since he took charge in 2012.

"We can't control what happens in Paris," stated Lancaster.

"We have got a fiery Italian side to play against who gave us a hard time two years ago and last year at Twickenham, so we have to get our heads right."

Match the performance produced over the last two weeks at Twickenham, and England should have no problems.

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

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