England lineout
The lineout was just one area where Stuart Lancaster was searching for a big improvement Getty

Stuart Lancaster was pleased with his side's scale of improvement after England bounced back from a concerning defeat to France to beat Ireland 21-13 in their final pre-World Cup warm-up test before facing Fiji on 18 September and first since finalising a 31-man squad for the upcoming tournament.

Several members of his squad came in for sustained criticism after an error-strewn and forgettable performance in Paris, but a dominant first-half showing at Twickenham settled any outstanding nerves as Jonny May - who also had a try ruled out for a forward pass - and Anthony Watson gave the hosts a commanding lead.

Although a distinctly underpar Ireland got themselves back in the contest as veteran lock Paul O'Connell capped his final international appearance on English soil with a try, England's game management skills proved impressive and they were unlucky not to add further gloss to the scoreline after receiving a helpful boost from a raft of replacements and seeing Richard Wigglesworth's late effort overturned by the television match official (TMO).

"Delighted to get the win," Lancaster said after the match. "We really wanted to improve on that performance against France two weeks ago and I though from one through 23 we did that. We played against a quality team in Ireland and to get the win is a great building block for us. But all focus now goes onto Fiji, obviously."

A huge part of the problem in that second match against France was England's underwhelming performance both at the set-piece and defensively at the breakdown. This was an area that Lancaster thought displayed particular improvement against Ireland, with Geoff Parling and Tom Wood proving their considerable worth after being restored to the pack.

"I thought set-piece wise, fair play, the forwards did well. Our discipline was an awful lot better. I thought we controlled field position and territory. We also had two tries disallowed which is disappointing but we closed the game out well. When you play a side as good as Ireland, you know they are going to have their moments but we restricted their opportunities to very few in the second half.

"Now the focus just goes onto Fiji for us. We will deal with the World Cup literally one game at a time. People talk to me about Wales and Australia and everything else but the only think I'm thinking about is going to the Stoop tomorrow to watch Fiji play Canada. We need to keep building, we need to keep improving and we need to put a consistent run of games together to win the World Cup. That's the challenge, for the players and coaches to deliver that. On the back of a disappointing performance, I'm pleased with the reaction."

Aside from a much better forward showing, although the scrum did creak at times, two other major positives to come out of England's latest home victory was their strength under the high ball and the excellent performance of May. The Gloucester wing showed great pace and strength to break the tackle of Tommy Bowe to score his try and Lancaster believes he is really staking a claim for a starting berth against Fiji.

He added: "I thought he was excellent. Ireland are so smart in their kicking game. Sometimes he was up, sometimes he was back but they rarely found grass in the back field because Jonny, Anthony (Watson) and (Mike) Brown had done their homework and dealt with the aerial threat.

"Jonny showed a real attacking intent but also a physicality to score that try. So yeah he's putting his hand up, but he's been putting his hand up right throughout this pre-season camp to be honest."

England's preparations for this match were somewhat disrupted by comments from the Rugby Football Union's (RFU) professional rugby director Rob Andrew. The former Lions fly-half invited controversy with his assertion that the current national side would likely peak in around three years' time rather than at the forthcoming World Cup. Lancaster, however, believes they are firmly in the running and hopes his players can use home advantage as a key asset.

"I think it's a results-based business and I understand that. I think this team is ready, but I would also add to that Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand - the list goes on. There are six or seven teams and whoever wins this World Cup will have to put a run together of consistent performances for seven games on the bounce. Playing at Twickenham, playing the way we did today, we are a hard team to beat."