Dallaglio: France clash will be ‘benchmark’

Lawrence Dallaglio has rallied England for a "benchmark" Test match in Paris next month after the world champions' Grand Slam hopes vanished at Murrayfield. [more]

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Lawrence Dallaglio has rallied England for a "benchmark" Test match in Paris next month after the world champions’ Grand Slam hopes vanished at Murrayfield.

It was only Scotland’s third victory over the auld enemy in 20 years, but on each occasion they have destroyed English dreams of a championship clean sweep.

Dallaglio, summoned off the bench to replace captain Martin Corry 15 minutes from time, could start at Stade de France in a back-row that requires reshaping, while elusive Wasps wing Tom Voyce may also get his opportunity.

"That would be jumping the gun somewhat,’ said Dallaglio, ahead of a possible first England start since June, 2004.

"We will look as a group at what needs to be done, and those decisions are down to other people.

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"We have got a very, very tough game now in Paris, but that will be a benchmark for us to see where we are and where we’re at.

"Defeat can hit teams and individuals in one of two ways – you can be very negative about it, or you can learn from it.’

Fundamentally, they need to rediscover a composure under pressure that characterised England’s 2003 World Cup squad, and it could also be argued the leadership qualities Robinson prides himself on developing throughout the team deserted him in an hour of need.

While try-scoring chances were at a premium – wing Ben Cohen was guilty of the most glaring miss when he dropped a pass just before half time with a solitary Scottish defender to beat – England could not impose themselves in areas that really mattered, and they were also hindered by lock Danny Grewcock’s first half sin-binning.

Five Chris Paterson penalties and a Dan Parks drop-goal eclipsed Charlie Hodgson’s penalty quartet, ripping the Calcutta Cup from English hands to end a sequence of five Scottish defeats that had seen them concede an average 38 points a time since Duncan Hodge produced his heroics in 2000.

"We didn’t keep the scoreboard moving, and ultimately, as the game progressed, that was going to play into Scotland’s hands," conceded Dallaglio.

"Our ball-retention should have been better. We coughed up the ball too many times and we paid the price – and were also a bit guilty of giving away penalties which perhaps in hindsight we didn’t need to give away.

"But we have to stick together as a group, and we will do, because we are an honest bunch of lads. In the right circumstances and surroundings, we will analyse what went wrong.

"Losing international matches for England is hugely disappointing, but we were beaten by a side that did the simple things better, controlled the ball better and took their chances.

"You can’t win every game of rugby unfortunately, and we have to hold our hands up and accept that at times, as painful as that may be."

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