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Lancaster relying on young guns to fire once again if he is to lead them into next World Cup

09 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Lancaster relying on young guns to fire once again if he is to lead them into next World Cup

England's final game may count for nothing, but the quality of their performance against amateur side could well decide their coach's fate

Stuart Lancaster is meant to be celebrating his 46th birthday this weekend, yet given the events of the past fortnight he probably feels like doing anything but.

As birthday parties go, it doesn’t get much worse than a dead rubber between two eliminated sides in the hired venue of the Etihad Stadium.

Particularly considering that what is now the main event in town, the Super League Grand Final, will be taking place just five miles down the road at Old Trafford.

Yet with the first ever host nation to be knocked out of their own World Cup in the pool stages being forced to show their faces one more time before sneaking out the back door, perhaps it is better that they do so away from Twickenham and the scene of the crime.

For what it is worth, Lancaster has appeared surprisingly upbeat during the week and has even hinted at a desire to stay on and continue the job, something that was not immediately apparent in the aftermath of the Australia defeat.

His players have certainly been quick to express their overwhelming support for England’s beleaguered coach, with Betway ambassador Mike Tindall also arguing that he has done enough to deserve a reprieve.

One of the theories in his favour lies in the fact that other coaches have recovered from crushing disappointment at international rugby’s showpiece event to lead their teams to glory four years later.

Clive Woodward was trusted to deliver on his promise of bringing the Webb Ellis trophy home from Australia following England’s thumping quarter-final defeat to South Africa in 1999, while reigning world champions New Zealand were justified in sticking with Graham Henry after their first ever failure to make the last four in 2007.

Yet on both of those occasions the men in question could point to a clear path of progression that was still yet to reach its fulfilment.

Having taken an ill-advised detour during this tournament that ultimately led to a dead end, if he is to have any hope of keeping his job then Lancaster must quickly get back on track against Uruguay by rediscovering fluid rugby that has characterised everything good about his tenure.

The eight changes he has made to the side that lost by 20 points to the Wallabies may have come about through a mixture of injuries and a desire to give as yet unused players a run out, but it is still a 15 that is far from cobbled together.

How ironic that going into a match with absolutely nothing riding on it, England’s much-discussed axis of 10-12-13 should suddenly look as balanced as it has done all tournament.

George Ford is clearly the way forward at fly-half if England are to truly challenge the Southern Hemisphere superpowers further down the line.

Even so, Owen Farrell’s steady performances in that position should have been enough to convince Lancaster to stick with his original plan of playing a second ball player at inside centre.

Jonathan Joseph may well have a firm grip on the No.13 shirt, yet if Henry Slade’s impressive performance against France in one of the warm-ups is anything to go by then he already offers an exciting and reliable alternative.

Against an amateur side and with a midfield that will look to spread the ball wide rather than carry it into contact, the outside backs are bound to be in the thick of the action.

Having touched down against Australia Anthony Watson is 6/4 to score a hat-trick on Saturday while Jack Nowell, coming in on the other wing, is 2/1 to do the same on his World Cup debut.

An England second string managed to put 111 points on Uruguay in 2003 to win by 98 – yet while it is stating the obvious that the current crop are not as good as those champion predecessors, it should also be pointed out that Uruguay are significantly better.

Los Teros have only lost by an average margin of 46.33 in their three games in the Pool of Death so far, and are 9/1 to continue that trend by losing by 46-50 points against a much-changed England side.

Given the circumstances, such a result would probably please both sides.

A damp squib it may be, but Lancaster’s future will depend on how much excitement his young, attacking side can bring to the party. Turn on the style, and it might not turn out to be the worst birthday after all.

England v Uruguay match betting

Rugby World Cup betting

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