England 28-9 Samoa
Lancaster: Ford put down a marker
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
November 22, 2014
England and Samoa stood united at the end © Getty Images
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England coach Stuart Lancaster admitted George Ford's solid showing at fly-half has given him a selection dilemma for next weekend's match against Australia.

Ford was instrumental in England's 28-9 victory over Samoa on Saturday, a match which brought to an end their five-game losing streak. He linked up well with Owen Farrell at 12 and with the Wallabies lying in wait next weekend, Lancaster has to weigh up whether to continue with that combination or shift Farrell back to fly-half.

"We've got that decision to make," Lancaster said of the fly-half berth. "Certainly from my point of view he's [Ford] been waiting patiently for his chance and he's put a real marker down for next week without a doubt."

And on Ford's performance, Lancaster said: "It's a big responsibility for a young player to come in and run a game and I thought he did it well. As a team we probably needed to play more in their half in their first half and that was the message at half time but he was incisive with his line breaks, he's got a great eye for a gap.

"His kicking game was good, obviously given the responsibility to kick goals and for touch, he took some hits, he showed a great deal of bravery and I thought it was a really positive first game for him."

One downside from the performance was Courtney Lawes' knee injury which England will assess during the week. But of the changes Lancaster made to the England side, he was pleased with the new faces' performance.

"I thought Ben Morgan did well off the base, I thought our scrum got on top ultimately which paid great dividends for us," Lancaster said. "And also defensively we were strong. Discipline-wise I was still disappointed to give away some unnecessary penalties so we need to address that. Set piece, defence - strong performance and we obviously took our tries well. Nice to see Jonny May get a couple and obviously a nice try for Mike Brown as well."

While Lancaster was pleased with the general manner of England's performance, there were again squandered chances and he wants their execution to improve ahead of the Test against Australia. When asked where the areas of improvement were, Lancaster responded: "That [taking chances] and understanding the conditions and how the game is going.

"Making sure you put the ball in the right areas to build your game from. At 13-6 at half-time the message for the second-half was to go deep, put the pressure on them, get to 16-6 which we did, they then had to try to play and then we could catch them on turnover ball and that's the way it unfolded.

"It was a shame we didn't take those opportunities at the end - whether it was Marland Yarde's break from the 15-man line-out or more importantly George's line break at the end to give Dave Attwood an opportunity. They're the ones we need to take."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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