ENGLAND boss Clive Woodward came out fighting last night as he issued a defiant message about his team's World Cup semi-final prospects against France in Sydney.
"I believe that we will beat France," said Woodward, following his team's monumental quarter-final struggle against Wales.
England triumphed 28-17, but were indebted to 23 points from fly-half Jonny Wilkinson's trusty left boot after Wales outscored them 3-1 on tries.
The Six Nations champions will now meet an in-form French side at Telstra Stadium on Sunday.
And the smart money must be on a French win, especially as they are the only side that has toppled England - twice - during the past 20 months.
"The French fully know that England are going down to play against them in the semi-final of the World Cup, and it's about what happens during the 80 minutes of the game. I don't really care if they are favourites or not favourites," said Woodward.
"Clearly, we were not at our best today and we made some very funda-mental errors, but I am also very confident that we can sit down, have a clear-the-air meeting next week, and beat France.
"We are disappointed how we played, but it's far nicer to be flying to Sydney than flying to London.
"We are not playing well, but we are winning these games through sheer bloody-mindedness. If we play like we did today then we've got no chance, but I don't think for one moment this team will play like it did today," he added.
"At half-time we said the right things and made the right changes. Clearly now France are red-hot favourites for next weekend's game, but France also know which team is coming down to play them, and we are looking forward to that game.
"France know us, and we know them very well.
"We've won every game so far without playing anywhere near what we are capable of. I believe we can put it right - and we need to get it right."
England will run fitness checks over several players after what was a bruising encounter, including skipper Martin Johnson and centre Will Greenwood, but none of yesterday's starting line-up would appear to be a doubt for the French clash.
Josh Lewsey (hamstring) and Iain Balshaw (ankle) though, who were not involved against Wales, could face particular scrutiny.
England's performance level grew once Woodward sent on Mike Catt for the second period, and it will be difficult for him to leave out the Bath back against France.
"It was a lot easier for me, having watched the game in the first 40 minutes, to come on and change the way things were being played. I had that advantage," Catt said.
"I am thoroughly enjoying it at the moment. Whatever comes my way, comes my way. It was great to get a run-out. We've got a lot to work do, but we are through to the semi-final of the World Cup, and that's pretty impressive in its own right.
"We played a lot of the first half in our own half, so it was a case of trying to take the pressure off the forwards a little bit by trying to play down in Wales' half. We caused a few mistakes and got the points."
England's saviour Wilkinson said: "It was a slightly better performance in the second half.
"Wales started very well and showed they were in good form, and in that situation you've got to trust your-self.
"We've not played well, but we believed in ourselves and had enough to get through the game."
While England look for the answers to their problems, Wales must head home after gaining no reward for two of the most inspirational performances they have produced in decades.
Seven days ago, they led New Zealand at the 60-minute mark and though few thought they were capable of repeating the feat yesterday, Charvis and his side probably improved on it.
"Every coach wants to win and when you get as close as we did tonight and don't manage it, it is gutwrenching," said Hansen.
"When we reflect back, everyone involved can be proud of what they have achieved.
"We have asked the team to stand up against England and New Zealand within a seven day period and they have responded magnificently.
"The only thing they didn't do was win but life is like that sometimes."