Stuart Lancaster admitted England were comprehensively beaten in a 25-20 defeat to France that has set alarm bells ringing just one match before the World Cup begins.
A sobering night for the tournament hosts saw their pack outmuscled for a second successive weekend with a dismal performance at the set piece – for so long a source of English strength – a major concern.
France’s lead stretched to 25-6 until late converted tries by Danny Cipriani and Jonathan Joseph gave the scoreline respectability, although they failed to mask the team’s shortcomings for the previous 70 minutes.
“France deserved to win and played very well in the first half. We didn’t play well in the first half and gave ourselves too much to do,” said head coach Lancaster.
“Our decision-making at the breakdown was poor. We didn’t get enough set-piece ball to build any possession.
“When we did retain possession and build phases, we scored some good tries, but the first 60 minutes weren’t good enough.
“We needed to be better and more disciplined. At half-time we were 7-4 behind on the penalty count and France had scored 15 points without having to work too hard.
“It was difficult for both sides at scrum time and a few decisions didn’t go our way. We’ll have to work on it against Ireland because they have a world class line-out.
“We scored some good tries but it doesn’t feel that way because we gave ourselves too much to do in the first 60.”
England’s second-half improvement coincided with the arrival of their replacements bench, most notably Danny Cipriani.
“Jamie George did well when he came on and all the bench made a difference. I thought Danny did well,” Lancaster said.
“Nick Easter carried well. Danny Care brought zip to the game.”
Lancaster expects centre Brad Barritt to resume training next week after being troubled by a calf problem and reported no injuries from the second and final World Cup warm-up match against France.