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Premiership Rugby

England to apply ‘significant pressure’

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The phrase belongs to Lawrence Dallaglio, the London Wasps No.8 who will be reunited with fellow veterans Neil Back and Richard Hill at the back of the scrum in Sunday's Rugby World Cup semi-final against France.

Some of England's early work – in the first halves against Samoa and Wales – has been distinctly 'B Movie' in quality.

But on the eve of the main event, Dallaglio argues that a command performance can still be delivered against a side who have reached the semi-finals of the World Cup without being significantly challenged.

"On Sunday both sides will know each other very well," he said. "We know their strengths – there are a lot – and their weaknesses and, vice versa, they know ours. But I still believe they've yet to be put under any significant pressure."

His side, on the other hand, has survived the close shaves and dug in to beat South Africa, Samoa and Wales by 19, 13 and 11 points respectively – all comfortable if less than decisive margins of victory.

That is why he is so keen to stress that the mood at their Manly base is "very excited, but very relaxed" as the pyrotechnics are prepared for the clash.

"Everyone saves their best for England," said Dallaglio. "South Africa were good against England and disappointing against New Zealand. Samoa raised their game once against us. Wales threw everything at us because maybe they'd already achieved their target of reaching the quarter-finals.

"In international rugby you go into games with a plan and a way you want to play but it doesn't always work out that way.

"The character, leadership and strength in this team has got us out of trouble. I think we've lost maybe one of the last 19 games and there's no doubting that we've got what it takes at this level.

"So far we've won the games by a 10-12 point margin and that's not a close game in my book. A close game is one point.

"It's obvious we'd like to play a bit more and with some style but you have to change and adapt to the way you're allowed to play. We've won those difficult games."

And they've done it by applying the significant pressure France will feel for the first time on Sunday. Stand by for explosions.

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