"Play better with 14 men!" - Sir Clive Woodward brutally reviews England's performance against Japan - Ruck

“Play better with 14 men!” – Sir Clive Woodward brutally reviews England’s performance against Japan

Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward was left unimpressed despite England making it back-to-back World Cup wins against Japan in Nice.

“In the end, England did enough for their 34-12 victory but unlike in the opening win over Argentina, their big players didn’t perform at their best,” he began in his column for the Mail Online.

“There was far, far too much kicking and too many spilled balls. England’s attack looked clunky when George Ford did try to get it going. There remains significant work to do.”

He added: “Elliot Daly’s decision to then kick the ball away was mindboggling. Yes there was space in behind, but when you have quick possession the last thing you want to do is give it back to the opposition!

“The first half was a real contrast in styles. Japan played with purpose and speed. England didn’t — their set-piece again focusing on driving lineouts.

“England’s pack did drive one maul forwards but there was none of the quick ruck ball spread wide that we saw at the very start.

“At one point in the first half, I did wonder if it would be better if England had another man sent off as they seem to play better with 14 men!”

On the second-half he added: “England did produce some nice hands at the start of the second half to send Daly down the wing.

“But then normal service resumed, Steward spilling a short ball from Ford. Mitchell’s kick attempt which ran dead was even booed by the England fans on the Cote d’Azur.

“It was a tight contest. I wasn’t expecting England to put 60 or 70 points on Japan, but I did think they would win fairly comfortably. In the end, England were just happy to win at all.”

 Four England players Steve Borthwich should drop and who should replace them

#1. Jonny May

Express 5/10: “Clumsy late challenge on Lemeki handed Rikiya Matsuda a simple penalty and added to the self-inflicted pressure on England.”

Mail Online 4/10: “Did not touch the ball in the first 40 minutes and conceded a penalty for a late hit that gifted territory to Japan.”

Rugby Pass 4/10: “Not a game for wingers. When is it ever in the Borthwick era? Didn’t feature in the opening half apart from a leap to cover a Japan cross kick that went into touch and then a late clip on a clearing kicker that gave the opposition a scored penalty from where the ball landed. “

The Guardian 5/10: “Didn’t touch the ball in the first half, though gave a needless penalty away, but more involved in second. Is in the side to chase kicks.”

Replacement: Henry Arundell