Rugby World Cup 2011

England target French scrum

2011-10-07 13:51
Martin Johnson (File)

Auckland - England manager Martin Johnson has identified the scrum as a key battleground in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final with France at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.

The 2003 champions have the advantage over the enigmatic French at the World Cup, winning all three of their previous knockout matches with Les Bleus, and they are strong favourites to advance to the semi-finals of this tournament.

Johnson believes the English scrum got on top of Argentina and Scotland in their pool victories and the former lock is looking for his forward pack to set a winning platform against the French this weekend.

"I think we've got a very good scrum and a very clean scrum. We want to scrum it as do the French and it's a key battle for us," Johnson said on Friday.

"Last week, frankly, Scotland were happy to chance their arm with the referee and to get into a battle like that we weren't quite good enough to take it away from them and we ended up in a situation where it was going either way.

"We have to be that bit better in the scrums so there is no doubt who is under pressure," added Johnson, England's victorious captain when they beat Australia in the final eight years ago.

"We got on top of Argentina's and Scotland's scrum and got the rewards for it."

Johnson said it was up to England to dominate territory and possession so as to take the game away from France, who are expected to lift dramatically after their stunning defeat by Tonga last weekend.

"The French are different to the English, it's not a secret. Their personality side is different but that's what makes them what they are and we all enjoy it," he said.

"We know they can under-perform, but we also know they can produce games that are almost unstoppable as we have seen in World Cups.

"You expect absolutely anything and it's to be at the highest standard, there's no point expecting anything else.

"They can open anyone up and we have to be on top of them and there is no point for us but to expect anything than their absolute best.

"We have to try to take the game out of their hands by playing well. If you're dominating territory and possession it doesn't matter what they can do because we will have the ball."


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