LONDON. — “Schoolboys and “amateurs” were just some of the damning words hurled at England after they lost to Wales at the Rugby World Cup and now they are being urged to be creative and decisive in their must-win match against Australia.

If they lose to the Wallabies in the “Pool of Death” on Saturday, England — beaten 28-25 by Wales in a Twickenham thriller last weekend — will be close to becoming the first World Cup hosts to exit before the knockout phase.

Critics slammed them for failing to finish off the game. England three times led Wales by 10 points.

Against Australia they must use their “creative talent” and be “streetwise”, former internationals said.

England captain Chris Robshaw came under fire for declining a late penalty kick that could have led to a draw. Instead he opted for an attacking line-out where hopes of a match-clinching try were snuffed out by the Welsh defence.

Ex-England captain Will Carling said responsibility for the debacle lay with England coach Stuart Lancaster, a former school-teacher, for creating a “classroom-orientated environment”.

“My view is that he has had leaders and that he needed to have trusted them and develop them . . . Instead, we’ve treated them as schoolboys,” Carling said.

Clive Woodward, who coined the phrase “T-CUP” — thinking clearly under pressure — while coaching England to World Cup glory in 2003, slammed the side’s final-quarter display against Wales.

“It pains me to say it but England looked like a team of amateurs playing against streetwise professionals in the last 20 minutes,” former England centre Woodward wrote in a Daily Mail column.

Woodward said Lancaster succeeded with his two most controversial selections against Wales —bringing in Owen Farrell at fly-half and starting Sam Burgess in midfield.

But they were undermined when rugby league convert Burgess came off with 11 minutes left, when not injured, so George Ford could enter at stand-off, with Farrell moved into the centres, he added.

“From looking secure most of the night, England were suddenly lost and Wales’ decisive try was down to that,” said Woodward.

Looking to the Australia match, he added: “England collectively have to produce the performance of their careers.

“With the stakes so high, England must fire all their bullets. If (Jonathan) Joseph is not fit, I would bring Henry Slade straight in at 13.

“England need every creative talent they have on the field.”

Jason Robinson, a member of Woodward’s World Cup-winning side, lamented that the team had not been “streetwise enough” to be further ahead when on top against Wales.

And he said better core skills were needed to beat Australia.

“Whatever tactics we choose, getting the basics right; defence and discipline are going to be absolutely vital,” the dual-code star insisted.

It may be true that giving a coach a second chance at a World Cup is no bad thing.

Woodward famously said “judge me on the World Cup” ahead of the 1999 tournament only for England to be out-thought in a quarter-final defeat in Paris where South Africa’s Jannie de Beer kicked a record five drop-goals in a Test.

Four years later, Woodward was a World Cup-winner.

Similarly, in 2007 New Zealand were undone by France in the last eight only for the All Blacks hierarchy to keep faith with coach Graham Henry, who oversaw a 2011 World Cup triumph on home soil.

Lancaster was, controversially, given a six-year contract extension 12 months ago by the Rugby Football Union in a deal that takes him beyond the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

If England do go out in the first round, the RFU will be under huge pressure to cut him loose. But that would say as much about chief executive Ian Ritchie, the man who appointed him, as it would Lancaster. — AFP.

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