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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
We must copy French, says Lewsey
Josh Lewsey
Lewsey admits France will start the game as favourites
Josh Lewsey says England must learn to play like France if they are to beat them in their World Cup semi-final.

He was impressed by the way the hosts saw off Ireland in a group game earlier in the tournament.

"It was intense. There didn't seem to be much between the teams but when you saw the scoreboard, France were almost 20 points up," he told BBC 5live.

"They did that by playing concise, accurate, pressure rugby; hopefully we can pinch that game-plan from them."

They haven't got any apparent weaknesses and they're a comprehensive team who don't allow you to get into the game, but they've also got the ability to say 'forget the game plan, let's freelance'

Josh Lewsey on France

Lewsey admits France will go into Saturday's semi-final at the Stade de France as hot favourites, but says he is confident England can pull off another upset after their unexpected win over Australia in the quarter-final.

"They've got the edge, knowing they've beaten us a couple of times before the tournament but hopefully we can sneak up under the radar and surprise a few people again," he said.

The Wasps winger says this is the most "physical and comprehensive" French team he has seen, and warned that England would be made to pay heavily for any individual errors.

"You've got to control the ball, they're a good side living off turnovers. At this level if you commit an individual error, or as a team, you lose the impetus for five or 10 minutes," he said.

"You've got to play pressure football, take opportunities when you get them and keep the scoreboard ticking over."

For years, France's unpredictable talent has made them as likely to implode as to overwhelm, and Lewsey said their stunning win over New Zealand showed them off at their best.

"They haven't got any apparent weaknesses and they're a comprehensive team who don't allow you to get into the game, but they've also got the ability to say 'forget the game plan, let's freelance' - that's when they're also at their most dangerous," he said.

"Apart from being very difficult to exert pressure against them because they don't give you those opportunities to play against them, they can be almost Fijian in the way they show Gallic flair and say 'off we go' from behind the posts.

"I've seen many teams chase shadows when they play against France when they're in that mood - we certainly saw the best of France last weekend."

England hooker Mark Regan said taking on the hosts would be a far bigger challenge than their quarter-final showdown with Australia.

"Last week was in the bag before we went out on the pitch, this week we'll have to make it harder, it's going to be a lot tougher," he said.

And full-back Jason Robinson, who will win his 50th cap in the match, said he could not see a weak link in the French line-up.

"If you give them a sniff they've got players who will turn things into something special, so we'll need to make sure we keep a close eye on all 15," he said.

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French do not scare us - Ashton
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New Zealand 18-20 France
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
England 12-10 Australia
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Josh Lewsey Q&A
03 Oct 07 |  English
France 22-9 England
18 Aug 07 |  English
England 15-21 France
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