ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster has warned his players they must raise their game if they are to win a potential Six Nations decider against Ireland in Dublin.
Lancaster declared himself largely satisfied with a six-try 47-17 victory over Italy at Twickenham on Saturday that maintained their 100 per cent start to the championship.
But he admitted his concern at a drop in intensity from the win in Wales eight days earlier, and insisted title rivals Ireland, who beat France 18-11, would be ready punish England’s sloppiness on 1 March.
“One or two areas need looking at before Ireland, but overall if you’d said to me before the game you’d get 47 points I’d have taken it,” said Lancaster.
“I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get the same level of intensity throughout the 80 minutes.
“I think back to two years ago [against Italy] and we were struggling to win the game. We know we’ve made progress but to beat Ireland in Ireland we’re going to have to step up again.”
Centre Jonathan Joseph touched down twice, while No8 Billy Vunipola, scrum-half Ben Youngs and replacements Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter also scored tries.
But an at-times stylish England display was tainted for Lancaster by the concession of another early try, to Sergio Parisse, and a series of second-half penalties.
“We want to get out of the habit of giving away a soft try at the start of every game because it comes back and hurts you,” he added.
“Lots of areas were good. Our scrum was good and the set piece was good again, our maul. In the second half our defence was excellent.
“We gave a couple of breakdown penalties away which was a bit frustrating. Someone like [Ireland’s] Johnny Sexton will bang those over. It’s an area we need to improve on.”