Lancaster demands England raise the bar
June 13, 2012
England's George Lowe receives some attention during his side's victory in Kimberley © Getty Images
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has urged his side to raise their game ahead of Saturday's second Test clash with South Africa in Johannesburg.
The tourists warmed up for their latest outing against the Springboks with a 54-26 victory over the South African Barbarians in Kimberley on Wednesday and Lancaster is hoping that the win can serve as a springboard to a series-levelling result at the weekend.
"I'm delighted to get the win and eight tries," he said having watched his second-string notch a morale-boosting win, "but the boys know they have been in a game. Credit to the Barbarians side, they worked for everything.
"There are one or two lessons we learnt along the way and a lot of positives to take from it but, equally, there are areas we all recognise we need to work on. It is the first time a lot of them have had a hit-out and for them to come up here and play, they will be better for it next time around."
Looking ahead to the showdown with the Boks, he added: "Ellis Park on Saturday is a truly formidable challenge but it is one we are excited about. We felt we pushed the Springboks close on Saturday and we have got to raise that by another 10 or 15% at least."
Today's game at the GWK Stadium was billed as an opportunity for some of the fringe players to force their way into the Test reckoning and with fullback Mike Brown and centre Brad Barritt both sidelined in the wake of the first Test, at least two changes to the side will need to be made.
Fullback Alex Goode was withdrawn at half-time suggesting he could be in the squad for the second Test due to be announced tomorrow while winger David Strettle was withdrawn before today's game he game to keep him fresh for the weekend with fellow winger Ugo Monye battling a tight hamstring.
One player to press his claims was scrum-half Danny Care in his first England appearance since his return to the international ranks after a troubled few months off the field. "I think he did well," said Lancaster. "He set up Christian for a great try in the first half, he has that intuitive sense of where space is and he got over himself. He lasted the full 80 and I am pleased he has got that game under his belt. It has been a while since he played."
England also suffered a fresh injury blow with centre George Lowe struck down by an ankle injury. "You could see from the tackle it was an awkward injury," said Lancaster. "I don't know the prognosis but I know he has had an ankle injury before. I think he will be struggling to be fit for next Tuesday."
Ben Foden, who featured on the wing in Durban last weekend, did not travel with the rest of the squad to Kimberley but Lancaster revealed that was just a precaution. "Ben stayed behind. He got a knock on Saturday, so rather than bring him on the flight he stayed behind, but he is fine. We have got a Test on Saturday and we didn't want to compromise our Test side by playing everyone in the midweek side."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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