England – outplayed, outthought, and out of the Rugby World Cup

Australia were by far the better side yesterday. We knew they’d be better at the breakdown, but they outplayed England everywhere else as well including the scrum.

To put a RWC2015 spin on an old joke, how can you lay back and think of England when you’ve no idea what they’ll do when they are awarded a penalty?

At 10-3 down, with England playing with a penalty advantage I was screaming at them to take a drop at goal to either nail three points or a shot at goal from the tee. They played on, and the chance was lost.

It might have made no difference but on such fine margins do big games sometimes turn and once Australia got into their stride, there was no stopping them. Bernard Foley played the game of his life and everything clicked.

I don’t often disagree with my sporting heroes but I felt Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Woodward were overly optimistic at half-time.

I simply couldn’t see England getting back into the match. If you can’t hold a 10-point lead one week against a side racked by injuries, how were we suddenly going to be able to overturn a 14-point deficit against a side at near full strength?

And the poor decisions kept coming. There was a quick penalty taken when a kick to touch might have been the better option then we saw a free kick against England for putting too many numbers in the line-out.

Having talked up the big occasion and how they intended to rise to it throughout the week, they hardly turned up. Even Mike Brown looked nervous and it wasn’t until George Ford came on that the home side offered much threat.

Nevertheless, where I do think Wilkinson and Woodward have it right is that this is a young group of players which have to use this experience as fuel for future campaigns.

The RFU have ruled out any immediate changes, but inevitably things must – and will – change.

First though, England have a game against Uruguay to finish their World Cup campaign. I predicted they’d beat both Wales and Australia, but not with any great certainty.

I’m 100 per cent certain they will win their final game, but as to what happens after that, your guess is as good as mine.