Ben Youngs admits the renewal of England’s assault on the Six Nations title has been tarnished by the regret of failing to establish a commanding position over their rivals.
A 25-13 victory over Scotland has lifted Stuart Lancaster’s men to the summit of the table heading into the final weekend and it will almost certainly require points difference to decide the 2015 Championship.
England are odds-on favourites to win a first piece of major silverware of Lancaster’s reign, with Ireland and Wales also joining the hunt during a climatic final day consisting of three staggered kick-offs.
The path to a prized Six Nations title in World Cup year is blocked by France, who are Saturday’s visitors to Twickenham in the concluding match of the tournament, but Youngs fears the wastefulness against Scotland could yet prove costly.
Time and again the Scots’ defence was shredded only for poor decision making at the crucial moment to ensure as many as six tries were butchered.
“It’s disappointing because the Championship will come down to points difference and we missed a few out there. We don’t want that to come back and bite us,” Youngs said.
An array of line breaks were wasted, the most glaring example coming just seconds into the match when centre Luther Burrell failed to find a support runner with the whitewash beckoning.
Jonathan Joseph crossed shortly after, with George Ford and Jack Nowell touching down after the break, but they could have been out of sight by half time only to find themselves trailing 13-10 to the Six Nations’ bottom placed team.
England enter the final weekend with a points difference of plus four over Ireland and plus 25 over Wales – the Celts travel to Edinburgh and Rome respectively – yet should have should have a far healthier cushion.
A nerve-jangling final day awaits and the Red Rose will know the target they must achieve against the unpredictable French.
“The last thing you want to do in a Test match is go out there and try to chase the game and start getting loose,” the man of the match said.
Youngs was involved when England were last crowned Six Nations champions in 2011 despite losing 24-8 in Dublin on a final day of muted celebrations.
“It would mean a lot to win it at Twickenham and that’s the key motivation for us this week,” he said.
ENGLAND: Brown, Watson, Joseph, Burrell, Nowell, Ford, B. Youngs, Marler, Hartley, Cole, Attwood, Lawes, Haskell, Robshaw, B. Vunipola.
Replacements: Cipriani for Brown (76), Wigglesworth for B. Youngs (66), M. Vunipola for Marler (59), T. Youngs for Hartley (50), Brookes for Cole (66), Parling for Attwood (50), Wood for Haskell (66).
SCOTLAND: Hogg, Fife, Bennett, Scott, Seymour, Russell, Laidlaw, Dickinson, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Gray, Harley, Cowan, Denton.
Replacements: Tonks for Scott (41), Hidalgo-Clyne for Russell (71), Grant for Dickinson (59), Brown for Ford (59), Cross for Murray (54), Swinson for Hamilton (47), Beattie for Harley (66), Ashe for Denton (54).
Referee: Romain Poite (France).