STUART LANCASTER declared England are ready for the World Cup after dispatching Ireland 21-13 in their final warm-up match for the global showpiece on home soil.
Tries from Jonny May and Anthony Watson helped establish a 12-3 lead, before a third touchdown by May was disallowed for a forward pass and later a fourth by Richard Wigglesworth was also scrubbed off after a mix up between Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood.
RBS 6 Nations champions Ireland fought their way back into the match when Paul O’Connell crossed, but the final 15 minutes were dominated by the hosts, who should have emerged more convincing winners.
England open the World Cup against Fiji on September 18 and head coach Lancaster insists they are formidable opponents at Twickenham.
“It’s a results-based business and I understand that, but I think this team is ready,” Lancaster said.
“There are six or seven teams who could win it - I would add to the list Ireland, Australia, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, the list goes on - and whoever does win it will have to put together a run of six or seven performances on the bounce.
“That’s our challenge as well, but playing at Twickenham the way we did against Ireland, we’re a hard team to beat.”
England were dire in their 25-20 defeat by France in Paris a fortnight ago, but Lancaster felt his team had atoned for a display that saw the pack bullied up front.
“I’m delighted to get the win. We really wanted to improve on our performance against France and I thought that from one to 23 we did that. We improved,” Lancaster said.
“We were playing a quality team in Ireland and to get the win was a great building block for us. All the focus for us now goes onto Fiji.
“We looked at the areas we needed to improve against France. Set-piece wise the forwards did well and discipline was an awful lot better.
“It was disappointing to have two tries disallowed but overall we closed the game out well. When you play against a side as good as Ireland you know they’ll have their moments.
“But we restricted their opportunities and to score two tries in the first half and have one disallowed, we’ll take that against a side as good as Ireland.”
Flanker Tom Wood was named man of the match, but that accolade could easily have been taken by May whose speed tormented Ireland throughout and the Gloucester wing could have done little more to earn a starting place against Fiji.
“I thought Jonny was excellent. Ireland are so smart in their kicking game, but sometimes he was up and sometimes he was back,” Lancaster said.
“He showed real attacking intent. He put his hand up, but he’s been putting his hand up throughout the summer camp.”