Farrell defends Robshaw

Captain Chris Robshaw is not solely to blame for the much-criticised decision which spectacularly failed to come off in going for a potential game-winning try and not a kick at goal in England’s World Cup Pool A match with Wales said kicker Owen Farrell.
Farrell said a group of leading players chatted about what to do when awarded a penalty wide out on the right wing with the clock running down to fulltime and Wales leading 28-25 in their epic game at Twickenham on Saturday.
The 28-25 defeat leaves the hosts with a tough battle to progress to the quarterfinals as they have to still face two-time world champions Australia next Saturday at Twickenham – the ground where the Wallabies beat them when they were also World Cup hosts in the 1991 final.
The 24-year-old fly-half – who justified his controversial selection by coach Stuart Lancaster for the game ahead of previous No 1 George Ford by kicking 20 points – said they wanted to go for the win rather than settle for a draw.
“You tend to back yourself as a kicker, but I wanted to back the decision,” said Farrell.
“We had a chat about the decision together. But at that time we wanted to go and win the game.”
Farrell said it was one of those calls where the thinnest of lines separated being called a genius or a risk-taking fool.
Japan captain Michael Leitch saw his similar call come off in spectacular style in the stunning 34-32 win over South Africa the Saturday before and was hailed for his courage in doing so, even apparently ignoring an instruction from the coaching staff to take the three points and settle for a draw.
“Yeah. It’s a risk-reward type thing,” said Farrell, who also prevented what looked certain to be a try when he bundled Liam Williams into touch earlier in the second-half.
“When you make the decision, as a group, to go for the corner, you back it.
“If it comes off then the decision is brilliant, but it hasn’t turned out that way this time.”
Farrell said that all involved in the brief debate had concurred with the decision to go for touch close to the Welsh tryline and then hope to win the ball at the lineout and bundle the ball over the line.
Instead the Welsh pack managed to put the English one on the back foot from the lineout and succeeded in pushing the ball carrier into touch to win themselves a lineout.
“There were a couple of us and there were lads around us,” said Farrell.
“We all bought in. If it doesn’t work out you’ll get criticised. It’s something to jump on.
“It’s not worked out this time, but if we’d got the match-winning try everyone would have praised the decision.”
Farrell said that the decision had to be taken on the pitch and not by those in the England camp who were watching from the stands and had to retain faith in the team leaders on the field of play.
“It came down to a feeling of what’s going on on the pitch at the time,” said Farrell.
“You can’t sit down and talk about it off the field when you’ve not got a feel for a game.
“The leaders are the leaders because they have a feel for the game and can be trusted.”
England, though, could rely on other results going their way even if they lost to Australia as Wales have two tough games to come against Fiji on Thursday – who eliminated them from the 2007 World Cup – and then the Australians.

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