Even as an English fan, I didn't think we had momentum at the 1991 World Cup. We'd already blown our lines against New Zealand in the opening match, and nearly did so again against Scotland. The French match was a punch-up, much like any France-England game in that era. England were getting through the rounds, but the gameplan didn't look particularly resilient. It had failed against NZ and likely would have failed again against Scotland if Gavin Hastings hadn't missed a sitter from in front of the posts.
Does that mean England were psychologically fragile, and didn't have the discipline a more conservative game plan demanded? Very possibly. I don't take personal offence at such a suggestion because good teams often fail to handle pressure. NZ supporters have seen that happen to their own team at the World Cup.
However, England had beaten Australia in 1988 with a fresher style, and it was when McGeechan selected more English players, that the Lions turned the 1989 series around to beat the Wallabies again. It doesn't make sense to call it panicking when none of the players at the time saw it that way.
Given the variety of play the team had shown, as they came together over the previous two seasons, it seemed to be a pragmatic response to the Wallaby challenge. Some of those players had beaten Australia three times against one loss over three years, so it's not that surprising they wanted to draw more inspiration from the winning strategy than the losing one.
Personally, I don't think the error in the final was to start with the intention of trying to attack. I think England failed to think on their feet, and realize they had more forward domination than they expected, so could afford to apply more pressure.
I would imagine every England player would love to have that final again but I'm pretty sure every team to lose such an important game would want the same.
There's no doubt that England try to be more expansive in the final and suffered for it. However, it wasn't an alien game plan - it was the style Carling's England had set out playing in 1988. Australians should know this, because they saw it first hand when losing 28-19 to England at Twickenham. We didn't play NZ much at that time, so I'm not surprised you didn't see it.
The peak of that style came in the 1990 Five Nations, where England played three expansive matches, handsomely beating Ireland, France and Wales, and running in 11 tries. And then, of course, disaster at Murrayfield in the Grand Slam decider.
That loss left deep wounds. England still hadn't won anything, despite wowing fans, so they became more pragmatic the following season. With the sole aim of winning the 6N, which we did.
As others have said, the decision to go back to a more expansive style was based on the hammering England had taken in Australia, along with the earlier loss to NZ, and tight match against Scotland.
The idea that England tried something brand new doesn't wash. It was a style they hadn't run through for over a year, though. That's where Rob Andrew and Will Carling differ over their recollection of the final. Andrew is clear that the plan was explicitly changed back - as playmaker he would know - while Carling always saw the attacking game as part of England's existing armoury so resists the idea of having flicked a switch.
As it turned out, England's pack matched the Wallabies on the day, and might even have edged them, so a more conservative game plan could have worked. Players like Ackford and Moore certainly think so today. Then again, there were a lot of strong characters in that England pack, and none objected to the captain's plan at the time.
Some good news for Australia. USA beat Canada to qualify for Rio in the North American competition.
If Australia can't beat Samoa to become the Pacific qualifier, the competition for the final play-off ought to be a bit easier, with the dangerous USA team no longer a potential opponent.
Obviously, beating Samoa remains the current goal.