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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
French do not scare us - Ashton
Brian Ashton and Jonny Wilkinson
Ashton congratulates Wilkinson after the Australia win
Brian Ashton says France's two warm-up wins over England will count for nothing when the two sides meet in the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

France beat England 21-15 at Twickenham before winning 22-9 in Marseille.

"We didn't play well in Marseille," England coach Ashton told BBC 5Live. "There was a 13 points difference, but those came when we were down to 14 men.

"We should have beaten them at Twickenham the week before. We're now in the same league as the French."


England and France both recorded shock wins in the quarter-finals to make the last four.

World champions England defeated Australia 12-10 in Marseille before the host nation upset tournament favourites New Zealand 20-18 in Cardiff.

Now the two northern hemisphere sides are due to face other at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

"We know it's important we prepare in the right way in terms of the way we rest and recover and the work we do on the field in training," said Ashton.

"But most of all it's about mental preparation this week.

"Identifying how we are to play against France and going out with the same sort of courage we showed against Australia."

It's not going to be easy. England are a great side who didn't beat Australia by chance.

France coach Bernard Laporte

France manager Jo Maso insists his side will not underestimate England.

"We will prepare for the semi-final with a lot of humility because they will want to avenge those two defeats," he said.

"We saw from the England match that rugby starts with the scrum and the will to succeed.

"We had leaders out there against New Zealand who were ready to die on the pitch. It was a great win but it wasn't a final, just a quarter-final. There is still work to do."

France coach Bernard Laporte is also wary of the threat posed by England.

"It's not going to be easy. England are a great side who didn't beat Australia by chance," he said.

"I haven't forgotten that they beat us in the Six Nations this year, so we have a lot of respect for them."

France 22-9 England
18 Aug 07 |  English
England 15-21 France
11 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
England 12-10 Australia
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 18-20 France
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union


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