Sport Autumn Internationals

Thursday 2 October 2014

Lancaster geared for stiffer Tests ahead

England 54
Fiji 12

Mick Cleary

Published 12/11/2012 | 05:00

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There was plenty for England fans to savour at Twickenham: the pace and menace of wing Charlie Sharples, the forceful, accurate play of debutant hooker Tom Youngs, the guile of full-back Alex Goode and the familiar sight, from France, of an Australian scrum that three little piggies would have little trouble demolishing. But, as smoke from late-running bonfires drifted across the London night, the one thing that was not in the air was a sense of triumphalism.

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And that might be the most promising aspect of all to take from an underwhelming afternoon, one that dulled the spirits even as it occasionally pleased the eye.

One thing guaranteed to lead to a side's comeuppance is self-delusion. As England gather at Pennyhill Park to prepare for games that will be 'real' Test matches, starting with the Wallabies, they were aware that this record win over Fiji was little more than a workout.

"No one is shouting from the roof-tops," said head coach Stuart Lancaster. "The changing room is quietly pleased but we all know we'll have to up our game to make sure we're ready for what's ahead. There's no chance of us getting carried away."

England gained credit with their highest margin of victory in their fifth fixture against Fiji, but there will be concern at how long it took to find their range. Lancaster is unlikely to make many changes, but Chris Ashton is certain to return, having served a one-match ban for three yellows.

The hosts outscored Fiji by seven tries to two and went in at the break with 25-0 lead -- and the victory secured.

Fiji managed an excellent Nikola Matawalu solo try at the death, but it was a token response as had their play been for much of the afternoon. Time for the real thing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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