Lancaster praises England's cool heads after Rome comeback
12 February 2012 11:20
Stuart Lancaster admitted relief after England turn things around
Interim coach Stuart Lancaster believed cooler heads prevailed as England staged a gritty second-half comeback against Italy in Rome to make it two wins from two in the RBS 6 Nations.
England were threatening to implode in the Stadio Olimpico after conceding two tries in two minutes at the end of the first-half from Giovanbattista Venditti and Tomasso Benvenuti to gift the Azzurri a 15-6 lead at the interval.
But Lancaster's men kept calm and turned things around, Charlie Hodgson recording his second charge-down try in two games and Owen Farrell adding four penalties and a solitary conversion in a flawless kicking performance.
And Lancaster believes their refusal to buckle and the introduction of Lee Dickson and Ben Morgan after 50 minutes paved the way for the turnaround.
"There wasn't a panic at half-time but clearly we needed to change what we were doing," said Lancaster. "I thought the substitutes made a tremendous impact.
"They really upped the tempo and that gave us the breathing space later on in the game which we needed.
"Every substitute you make is in the context of the game. You go into it with an idea in your mind about what you're going to do, but clearly at that point, even though Charlie got the charge down, we felt it was the right thing to do.
"We've seen Lee in training, we know what he brings in terms of tempo to the game, and we needed to do that to try and break the Italians because they'd had a tremendous first-half.
"We had a mad five minutes and gave them a lot of momentum. Then we gave four penalties on the bounce away at the start of the second-half and that put us under real pressure.
"We talked at half-time about playing a bit off the first receiver rather than just playing off nine all the time, and having the courage to play. I thought the players did that in the second-half.
"I think relieved would be one word to sum up the game but also proud as well. I thought it was a fantastic way to come back into it."
Lancaster was full of praise for Farrell too after another nerveless performance from the 20-year-old.
"When Owen puts the ball down you've just got confidence he's going to get it. His temperament's unbelievable for a young man," he added.
"I'm really pleased for him but pleased for everyone too. It's a nice changing room to be in."
England play their first home game of the Championship against Wales at Twickenham on February 25.
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.