England lack a 'clinical edge'
England wing Chris Ashton believes his side were the masters of their own downfall in the 14-20 loss to Australia.
England wing Chris Ashton believes his side were the masters of their own downfall in the 14-20 loss to Australia at Twickenham.
The defeat at the weekend jeopardised England's chances of being named among the top seeds in next month's draw for the 2015 World Cup, and Ashton feels that a positive result was within the hosts' grasp.
Although Australia bossed proceedings for the first 60 minutes, England took control in the final quarter of the match but were unable to transform their territorial advantage into points.
Captain Chris Robshaw ignored four opportunities to kick for goal as England sought the try that would have turned the match around.
Ashton supported his skipper's decisions, but said England were simply not sharp enough.
"I think we cost ourselves the game," said the Saracens wing.
"We had enough possession in their 22 and we just didn't take our chances. I think the right decisions were made from those penalties. I thought we had them but we just couldn't find that finishing pass.
"Toby Flood tried to find me through the back and if the pass had gone to hand, I would have been through a hole. And then Thomas Waldrom dropped the ball over the line.
"You have to take your chances. Our attack was better [than in last weekend's 54-12 win over Fiji], but we are lacking that clinical edge.
"We put ourselves in a position to win that game and that was the frustrating thing."
Although Ashton backed his team's tactics, former England coach Clive Woodward said current coach Stuart Lancaster had not prepared his side sufficiently for the game.
In particular, the man who led England to glory at the 2003 World Cup in Australia felt the decision not to kick for goal in the final 20 minutes was the wrong one.
"The biggest thing is trying to be smart ahead of the game," Woodward told BBC Radio Five Live.
"If you sat down on a Thursday night and gave the players the situation -- you are 20-14 down with 22 minutes to go, you have a penalty, the ball is slow, what do you do? -- the right decision is to kick for goal and reduce the points to just three.
"If you go for the line-out or go for the try, you have to score, and if you don't, you give huge momentum to the defending team; in this case Australia.
"The key thing is not making decisions in the heat of battle -- it is getting these things in players' heads before you go on the pitch, so you know what is going to happen in every single situation. That is the secret to coaching."
England face South Africa at Twickenham next weekend, before completing their autumn schedule against world champions New Zealand.