DURBAN - England are "bitterly frustrated" at their inability to hold leads and maintain their discipline in South Africa and have a point to prove in the final match of the series in Cape Town on Saturday, lock Joe Launchbury has said.
England lost the three-match series with defeats in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, where they made excellent starts to both games but allowed the Springboks to roar back and claim victory as the penalty count mounted against them. "It is bitterly frustrating, parts of those first 20 minutes have been some of the best rugby we have played in a while and other parts we have been struggling to put things together," Launchbury told reporters. "Sometimes that happens, but as a forward pack it is important for us to really drive the team forward in that regard, go back to our basics."
With England looking to halt a five-match losing streak and ease the pressure on coach Eddie Jones, Launchbury said it was crucial for the pack to dominate on Saturday and keep the ball out of the Springboks' hands. "When they get a drive going you can see how much energy it gives them, as a forward pack we understand not only stopping that but making sure we are dominant on our own ball goes a long way to making sure we get a result this weekend," he added.
The Wasps second-rower says there will be no drop in intensity despite it being the final match of a long season for England’s players. "It is easy to view this as a last game of the season, a tour that is over in terms of result being 2-0 down," he said.
"But what we do have is a massive opportunity to end a run of form which we are desperate to change, get a win here and we know we are capable of it. Any opportunity to play for England is something to cherish and get excited about and I’d be very surprised to see someone in the squad who isn’t. We are desperate to put the record straight this weekend."
Launchbury’s club mate Danny Cipriani, who will play at Gloucester next season, made a return to the England side for the first time in three years off the bench last weekend and if the team’s training this week is anything to go by he will get another run at Newlands.
"His biggest improvement this year is probably the leadership side of things," Launchbury added. "It’s pretty obvious for people to see ball-in-hand what he has talent wise, through space, delaying his pass to hitting the right option at the line, but what has impressed me most is his game-management, leadership and trying to make the players around him better."