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Mike Tindall: England’s task is simple, but Lancaster still has plenty to ponder

28 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Mike Tindall: England’s task is simple, but Lancaster still has plenty to ponder

The World Cup winner and Betway ambassador believes England must learn to balance their use of the bench in order to overcome Australia

England’s World Cup now hangs in the balance and they will be kicking themselves for throwing away a position of such control.

With an hour gone, they had it in the bag. The game was pretty much over and they looked so comfortable.

Ultimately, you have got to give Wales credit for hanging in there with all the disruption that they had suffered to their team.

To end up with their fly-half filling in at full-back, a scrum-half making up the numbers on the wing and to still score a try of the quality they did takes some doing.

Yet it should never have got to that stage – England lost the game rather than Wales winning it.

The penalties that they gave away killed them. True, some of the interpretations of Jerome Garces were perhaps open to question, but every referee is different and you have to learn to adapt to that.

As we saw on Saturday, it is very difficult to reverse a change in momentum once the tide turns, which is why the decision not to go for the posts with that late penalty defied logic.

In that situation you simply have to go for the points. A draw would not have been the best result, obviously – but you would still be in the driving seat and your destiny would still be in your hands.

Even in the worst case scenario where you miss the kick, you get the ball back from a drop-out and have the chance to go again.

Owen Farrell did not look like he was going to miss all night so I’d be surprised if he was worried at all. You would back him to put those over as that is basically one of the reasons why he was back in the team.

You do have to remember that these decisions have to be made so quickly – you can’t stand around making your mind up when you have that little time.

But if I was Stuart Lancaster that kicking tee would have been on the field before Chris Robshaw even had a chance to think about it because once that happens it doesn’t matter what the captain says.robshaw-farrellThe timing and the use of substitutions were the other big talking point with Farrell moving to centre Sam Burgess coming off.

England were comfortably in control – so what was the tactical reasoning behind deciding to switch it up?

Replacements are intended to change a game – but in this case England didn’t need the game to change as they were ten points up and in control. I can’t help but feel that the changes were made for the sake of it.

If you were going to make those subs it should have been due to injuries, because they certainly didn’t have an impact in the same way that they did against Fiji.

The dilemma now is how to react – because key positions in the the side are up in the air.

Will Ben Morgan be able to replace Billy Vunipola? Will Ben Youngs be fit enough to start? Do you stick with Farrell at fly-half? If Jonathan Joseph is able to return do you mix up the midfield again and go back to getting the best out of Burgess from the bench?

The problem is that Stuart Lancaster is ending up with more questions after each game than he is answers.

Nobody is getting settled into a position, particularly in terms of the spine of the team at 8-9-10-12.

You must name your strongest side but if you keep going this way of chopping and changing again then you are never going to solve any problems.joanthan-josephBut England cannot afford to get too downhearted from the weekend. This pool has always been about who can win three games.

It will be tough for Wales against Fiji because they are so banged up in terms of injuries at the moment that their medical staff are going to be working overtime just to try and piece them back together.

Wales have got to just get through that game. They won’t be thinking about bonus points or winning margin – it is all about just winning the match and putting themselves in a position to top the group.

Australia have looked the strongest of the three teams so far and will be licking their lips at facing a wounded England, although they will be wary of a backlash.

All England can do now is go and beat Australia.

Do that and it could well all come down to points difference, which will suit them as it means that they can go out knowing exactly what they need to do against Uruguay.

I expect it to be close again this weekend – England will fight until the end but in such a tight pool you just never know what is going to happen.

Hopefully this time the cards can fall right for them and they can get that victory to spark their tournament back into life.

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READ: Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Round Two