England still hope to outbully Boks
21 Jun 2012
Stuart Lancaster believes England have been physically dominant at times and feels the new selections will give them a better chance of consistency in Saturday’s Test.
England were in a fiery mood during the first 40 minutes of this series, turning in an aggressive performance at the collisions. They were also more effective at the tackle point during the second half of the second Test, and so nearly effected a dramatic comeback after being 28-10 down.
Lancaster said on Thursday that the team had taken heart from these showings, although they realise a more complete effort will be needed if they are going to leave South Africa with at least one Test victory.
The England coach has made a couple of unforced changes to his pack that he believes will help the tourists in their gainline ambitions. No 8 Thomas Waldrom and lock Tom Palmer are expected to provide England with more grunt at the tackle, while James Haskell will be similarly tasked when he steps in for the injured Chris Robshaw.
‘It all comes down to an 80-minute performance,’ said Lancaster. ‘We’ve performed well in patches in this series, but haven’t put it all together. We have to start well this Saturday and then really build the momentum throughout the course of the game.
‘James Haskell has brought a lot of energy to the team, but energy is one thing and physicality is quite another. We are looking for him to play that role, both as a defender and as a ball carrier. Thomas will also have a big role to play in that regard, and both he and Tom Palmer impressed me [in that department] when they came off the bench last week.’
The Bok pack has been weakened by the loss of Willem Alberts, who sustained a knee injury in last week’s match. The uncapped Jacques Potgieter will start at blindside flank in Alberts’ place, and England may feel that they have an opening with the Boks fielding two rookies in their back row.
Lancaster admitted that he hadn’t seen much of Potgieter, but said that England’s focus was on winning the collisions and that who wore the Bok No 7 jersey had no bearing on that ambition.
He also said that England won’t be wanting for motivation. The Boks may have already won the series 2-0, but England are going into this match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as if it were a one-off Test.
‘There is no such thing as a dead rubber in international sport,’ said Lancaster. ‘The next game is important just as every international is important.
‘There is always a better feeling when you end the season on a high, and that’s also what we are after this Saturday. It’s not going to be easy though, we will have to earn it.’
Another win for South Africa will ensure a 3-0 whitewash and extend their winning run against England to 10 victories.
Another loss for England mark their fourth defeat in eight Tests under Lancaster.
By Jon Cardinelli, in Port Elizabeth