Rugby Union: England captain Chris Ashton slammed his side’s lack of cutting edge today after they went down 14-20 to Australia.
The Twickenham loss dealt a severe blow to England’s hopes of being top seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the draw is made in London on December 3.
And Ashton is thankful that the tournament on home soil is still three years away because he believes England need that time to sharpen up.
He said: “You have to take your chances. Our attack was better (than it was in last weekend’s 54-12 win over Fiji) but we are lacking that clinical edge.
“We put ourselves in a position to win that game and that was the frustrating thing.”
England face South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday and World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward shone the spotlight on Stuart Lancaster today as preparations for that clash begin.
Woodward said: “England have to understand international rugby is a very tough business. He (Lancaster) has got to pick a tougher team.”
Scotland also suffered defeat as they went down 10-21 to the Springboks at Murrayfield, which is almost certain to see them among the third seeds in the draw for 2015, after failing to break into the top eight in the rankings.
The hosts mounted a late fightback to give the final score a respectable sheen but head coach Andy Robinson admitted that consistency was the major issue for his side.
“There is still one game for us to go and that’s what we will focus on. You deal in the here and now and how we move forward.
“The one thing we will take out these two games, I think we have shown that we can perform against the two very best teams.”
Finally Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips believes his side must raise their game as they prepare to face world champions New Zealand.
After crashing 19-26 to Samoa, Wales are without a win in five Tests and Phillips said: “It is fine margins, and it’s the players that have to stand up.”