Lewis Ludlam issues a message to the booing England supporters
Back-rower Lewis Ludlam has issued a message to frustrated England supporters, appealing for them to stick with Steve Borthwick’s team despite unhappiness with Sunday night’s latest Rugby World Cup performance.
It was only towards the finish of the Pool D contest in Nice that the English finally headed off the entertaining Japanese challenge that had Jamie Joseph’s team trailing by just a point near midway in the second half.
A fluke try created from a Joe Marler header on 56 minutes eventually proved to be the decisive score, giving England the breathing space to go on and secure a 34-12 victory in which their four-try bonus point arrived with the clock in the red.
Before that upper hand materialised, England were subjected to some loud booing from their own supporters at Stade de Nice, a situation that wasn’t lost on Ludlam who was a first-half try-scorer before giving way to Billy Vunipola 11 minutes into the second period with Borthwick’s team only 13-9 ahead.
Asked if he had a message for the England fans who felt they weren’t suitably entertained by their kick-heavy performance, Ludlam said: “I’ll just say stick with us, we’re a team that is learning every week and there are probably opportunities in there that we could have run the ball but it is hard to say how greasy that ball was.
“It was humid in that stadium and a couple of times we tried to play and we gave the ball away and we ended up straight back on our try line. George (Ford) was very good at putting us in the right areas, putting the ball in behind to give us a better opportunity to attack further up the pitch.
“It’s hard to get the fans excited about that. We understand but we’re building and, like I say, we will take more opportunities and we will be a better team next week and play in the right areas of the pitch.
“Japan are a brilliant team, they made it really hard for us at times. They played in the right areas of the pitch, they put the ball in behind us a few times and put us under some real heat. Probably not the performance we wanted, not a complete performance, but happy to get the win and the five points.
“We need to probably execute our set-piece a bit better. We let one or two go amiss and ball security as well, we probably gave the ball back to them way too many times. Steve said after the game there is heaps we can work on over the next couple of days, put those wrongs right and we will be a better team next week.”
Next week means minnows Chile on Saturday in Lille, a fixture where surely even the limited England attack can enjoy a better return on the try front. That’s a match that Owen Farrell is available for selection for as his four-game ban expired at full-time in Nice.
“He is always champing at the bit to get involved. Whether he is banned or not, he is always there, always leading the team forward. It’s massive we have got him back. It’s just adding to that competition at 10 which is so fierce. It’s brilliant,” reckoned Ludlam.
“He is a proper competitor, one of the most competitive blokes I have had the pleasure of playing with and against. He is going to fight until the end and lead the team in the right way. He is a massive character and happy he is back from his ban now.”
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