Ashton rues missed opportunities

PA Sport
Chris Ashton feels England failed to take their chances against Australia
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Chris Ashton feels England failed to take their chances against Australia

Chris Ashton did not hold back in his criticism of England after they crashed to a 20-14 defeat to Australia.

Saturday's Twickenham result dealt a severe blow to England's hopes of being top seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the draw is made in London on December 3.

"I think we cost ourselves the game. We had enough possession in their 22 and we just didn't take our chances," Ashton said.

England hung in as Australia dominated the first hour and Stuart Lancaster's men then bossed the final quarter - but they could not convert any of that pressure into points. On four occasions, the first being with 22 minutes left in the match, captain Chris Robshaw opted not to kick penalties at goal in search of a try that did not come.

"I think the right decisions were made from those penalties (to go for touch or quick taps). 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 it was 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."

Ashton's frustration on the field was evident - particularly when Manu Tuilagi ignored him on the overlap and ran straight into two defenders. Tuilagi had done something similar to Charlie Sharples at the end of the first half but got away with it when he had just managed to score in the corner.

"Manu is a strong lad and he always gets over the gainline so his first instinct is to do that," Ashton said. "Hopefully the more I can play outside him the more he will get used to it, then he will recognise the difference between running and passing."

England only have six days until South Africa arrive at Twickenham. The weekend after that it is world champions New Zealand. Wood insists England must draw inspiration from the Wallabies, who responded to a 33-6 defeat in France to regain the Cook Cup at Twickenham.

"Australia have set a precedent that when things go wrong and you are written off, that is they way to bounce back and that is what we must try and do," Wood said. "The right things were said after the game about being harder on ourselves and not letting chances like that slip. It is about when you get a chance at international level - nail it."

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