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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
England 'can cause Cup surprise'
Brian Ashton
Ashton was disappointed with his side's display in Marseille
England coach Brian Ashton says his side remain confident they can cause a surprise at the World Cup despite a disappointing warm-up campaign.

For the second week running, England suffered a defeat to France without scoring a try, but Ashton said: "There is a good morale within in the squad.

"There is a great desire and there will be a belief that we can surprise one or two people when the tournament starts.

"We still have a positive attitude amongst the players."

England opened their warm-up programme with a record victory over Wales but failed to claim a win in the double-header against France.

I think what it is going to take is an extra 20 to 30% from every player, but we are good enough

Lawrence Dallaglio

The second Test on Saturday saw France record a comfortable 22-9 victory in Marseille, a match which saw England struggle to create clear-cut chances.

The defeat has not gone down well with the bookmakers, with one now saying that England are out to 29-1 to retain their title.

And Ashton admitted that England have plenty of work to do in the three weeks before their opening World Cup game against the USA on 8 September.

"The first thing we need to do is get our strongest side out onto the field, we have not done that yet," Ashton added on BBC Radio 5live's Sportsweek.

"That's largely because our World Cup campaign didn't start until seven or eight weeks ago.


"And we also need to be more ruthless. We have created opportunities in all three games but some of the more clear-cut ones we have not executed.

"Not scoring tries in the two games against France is a concern but ultimately there is no hiding place from Saturday night, we were outplayed by the French team.

"We outplayed France last week and they outplayed us on Saturday. Does that mean we should be more worried than they should be? I am not quite sure.

"In the home games against Wales and France, the basics of our game were outstanding and for whatever reason in Marseille we were nowhere near as good. You do not win here if you get he fundamentals of the game wrong."

Lawrence Dallaglio admitted that the second defeat by France had been hard to take but, like Ashton, the Wasps forward remained convinced England can perform at the World Cup.

"It has given us a bit of a reality check," he said.

"We've got a couple of weeks to learn from this, and we've got to make sure we don't make the same mistakes in our World Cup campaign.

"I think what it is going to take is an extra 20 to 30% from every player, but we are good enough."

France 22-9 England
18 Aug 07 |  English
France v England as it happened
18 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
France change eight for England
17 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
Chuter to miss key England match
17 Aug 07 |  English
Ashton content with 'Dad's Army'
14 Aug 07 |  English
Tindall & Hodgson miss World Cup
13 Aug 07 |  English
England 15-21 France
11 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union


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