‘We shot ourselves in the foot’, says England’s Haskell
England back-row forward James Haskell said the side could not afford to “shoot ourselves in the foot” again as they headed into a make or break World Cup clash against Australia on the back of a stunning defeat by Wales.
Tournament hosts England twice led by 10 points against Wales only to lose 28-25 in a dramatic clash at Twickenham on Saturday, with Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar punishing their indiscipline at the breakdown with seven penalties.
“We can’t afford to do what we did,” Haskell said Sunday. “We can’t get ahead and show great ability and then shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Haskell, who came on as a 62nd-minute replacement for No 8 Billy Vunipola, said England would have to treat the Australia match as if they were playing for the World Cup.
“It’s going to be a final for us,” said Haskell.
“Everyone involved will have to imagine it’s the last time you put that white shirt on.”
England wing Jonny May scored a first-half try against Wales but this was cancelled out nine minutes from time by Welsh scrum-half Gareth Davies.
“We gave away a penalty after penalty and then conceded a try,” said the 30-year-old Haskell, a veteran of 61 Tests. “Our discipline cost us the game and that is really disappointing.”
England came from 10 points down to beat Wales 21-16 at the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations in February only to have the tables turned dramatically at Twickenham.
“We seemed to have the game by the scruff of the neck,” said Haskell. “It was a reverse of Cardiff.”
England had a chance to draw the match in the dying seconds but captain Chris Robshaw opted for an attacking line-out, in the hope of a winning try, rather than give Owen Farrell, who didn’t miss a goal-kick all game, the opportunity to level the scores from wide on the right.
Wales, however, kept England at bay.
“It was right by the touchline so it’s a very difficult kick,” said Haskell. “Robbo and the kickers communicated with each other and it was decided the best thing to do was to go to the corner. “Wales defended it very well.”
Defeat by the Wallabies at Twickenham this coming Saturday could spell the end of England’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals from the ‘Pool of Death’
But four years ago France lost twice in the pool stage only to reach the World Cup final, where they were beaten by New Zealand.
An in 2007, England suffered a 36-0 pool thrashing by South Africa before getting to the final, where they went down 15-6 to the Springboks in Paris.
“It is not over for us by any stretch of the imagination,” said Haskell.
“The guys lost that (2007) game and yet got to the final and came so, so close. There has got to be belief still that we can go all the way.
“There’s a tough game coming against Australia but Wales have got to play Fiji (who knocked the Welsh out of the 2007 World Cup) and Australia so it is all to play for.
“If we had been blown away that is one thing. But we have cost ourselves and that is why it is more disappointing.”
England have won their last two Tests against Australia, dominating the Wallabies at the scrum.
But England hooker Tom Youngs warned Australia, recent winners of the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, were a real threat up front.
“They always get a bad write up when actually they’re a very efficient pack,” Youngs said.
“We’ll have to be right on our mettle to get things right.
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