England skipper Chris Robshaw may live to regret his decision to spurn a late kick at goal which could have levelled matters against Wales on Saturday, but second-row Geoff Parling has pointed the finger elsewhere.
Robshaw shouldered responsibility for England opting against a penalty kick with three minutes of their 28-25 demise against Wales remaining, instead choosing to go for a five-metre line-out which was repelled.
Parling refused to hang Robshaw out to dry, and preferred to focus on the concession of a series of penalties, many at the breakdown, which allowed Wales to battle back from deficits of 19-9 and 22-12 in the second period.
“It was a collective decision. It wasn’t as if it was a penalty in front of the posts, I know he [Owen Farrell] was kicking really well, but it’s harder than you think,” said Parling.
“We thought we should go 5m out from the line and drive them over, but we didn’t manage to do that. We still had some chances after that but that’s not why we lost the game.
“It was lost because of our ill discipline. We cannot give away cheap points and when our opponent has momentum in the game we’ve got to be able to wrestle it back. We’ve got to read the ref better as well. Our defence is usually exceptional and we need to be able to back it and not give away cheap points.”
Parling issued a frank assessment of England’s harrowing 30-3 thrashing in the Millennium Stadium in 2013, which not only cost Stuart Lancaster’s side the Six Nations title but a first grand slam since 2003.
But the Exeter-bound 31-year-old was more guarded in the wake of England’s defeat to Wales at the weekend, adamant that it was a match simply thrown away by the tournament’s host nation.
Defeat has left England’s Rugby World Cup hopes in the balance, with a must-win clash against Australia on Saturday, while Parling is adamant that his side’s reputation for performing better when staring down the barrel is an unwanted one.
“I don’t like that. If we do play better when our backs are against the wall, it’s not good enough,” added Parling.
“We should play as well as we can every single game, we shouldn’t have to be in a backs-against-the-wall situation to get a reaction.
“It wasn’t good enough [against Wales]. What are we going to do? We have to fix our performance, take that first-half and replicate it.
“I cannot really put it into words how I’m feeling – gutted and frustrated. It was a Test match we should have won.”