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Robshaw backs England to attack Australian pack

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The Australian scrum has transformed from a perceived weakness to an undeniable strength in recent times but England captain Chris Robshaw has urged his troops to attack the Wallabies up front at Twickenham on Saturday.

Having lost 28-25 to Wales last time out, England find themselves in must-win territory this weekend if they are to emerge from Pool A and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Traditionally, the Red Rose forwards would be expected to dominate their Australian counterparts at scrum-time but since former Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma was hired as Wallabies scrum coach in July, their front eight has improved considerably.

The pack dominated Fiji from whistle to whistle in their World Cup opener – Michael Hooper and two-try hero David Pocock particularly impressive – before doing the same against an overmatched Uruguay side in a 65-3 triumph last Sunday.

There’s no doubt that England’s forwards still pack a punch however, with the likes of Aviva Premiership Rugby stalwarts Dan Cole, Joe Marler and Geoff Parling all proven set-piece operators.

But while Harlequins star Robshaw is aware of the Australian forwards’ ability, he is keen for England to throw the first punch.

“Australia are good at the breakdown and you’ve got to pay a lot of respect to two guys in particular, in Pocock and Hooper,” he said.

“Across the board they threaten you but as a team we have responsibility to deal with that. It’s about having speed in there and not giving them the opportunity to seize the ball because they do chance their arm and get quite a few turnovers per game.

“We’ve got to be switched on but that’s down to everyone – be it carrying the ball a certain way, body position on the floor or the way you ruck, a lot of factors come into it.

“I definitely back my guys to take them on up front – as a pack we’ve been building nicely over the past couple of weeks.

“I think you saw the effects of that last week with a number of penalties so hopefully it will be another good fixture.”

England had a ten-point lead at one stage against Wales before Gareth Davies’ late try and the boot of Dan Biggar handed Warren Gatland’s men a famous victory.

Robshaw claims the team had no option but to quickly move on following the heartbreaking defeat but he acknowledges that they must learn to put the opposition away when they have the chance.

“We felt we couldn’t quite get away last weekend, so for us it’s about ‘how can we be more ruthless in games?’” added Robshaw.

“’Can we up the ante, can we up the tempo and put teams away?’ Hopefully we can.

“We’re in a must-win game now so you can’t sit and sulk for too long about previous games. We can’t let it affect our performance last weekend and we can’t dwell on it too much.

“There’s pressure from within, from the players to go out there and perform but you feel the support of the country as well.”
 

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