Stuart Lancaster admits England must curb their “youthful exuberance” if they are to salvage an autumn-saving victory over 2015 World Cup group rivals Australia.
A run of five successive defeats ended with Saturday’s 28-9 victory over Samoa at Twickenham, but the wounds left by New Zealand and South Africa in the opening two fixtures of the series will only begin to heal if the Wallabies are toppled.
Some repeated failings were evident against Samoa with missed chances and tactical naivety limiting England to only three tries against opponents distracted by a dispute with their union over mismanagement.
“We have a youthful exuberance about us when it comes to wanting to play a bit but as the weather closed in we needed to put the ball in the right areas,” Lancaster said.
“Overall, the ability to play in the right areas of the field against a side like Australia will be important and we need to improve in that area.”
While the performance against Samoa was merely acceptable, George Ford’s accomplished full debut at fly-half is a source of genuine optimism and the 21-year-old is likely to continue pulling the strings against Australia.
Owen Farrell is expected to continue at inside centre as Lancaster gauges the twin playmaking option for a second time, with assured scrum-half Ben Youngs supplying the ammunition.
“It wasn’t a dry day and it wasn’t a game for running rugby. The set plays we used to get George and Owen going were effective,” Lancaster said
“Jonny May’s first try came off a nice link between the two of them.
“It was a good start, but there are a lot of ‘work-ons’ for us as a team.
“It was a really composed performance by George helped by good service and delivery from Ben, who got his kicking spot on. It was a great start from them as half-backs.”