ENGLAND face their most important match since the 2003 World Cup final when they take on Tonga in their last Pool A outing in Paris tonight.
Anything less than victory will bring England's campaign to an ignominious end as the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages.
Tonga, seeking to reach the last eight for the first time, have been one of the tournament’s biggest surprises.
The Sea Eagles have labelled the match as the biggest in their history.
“It is very important for the boys, and I know they will be throwing everything into this game,” said coach Quddus Fielea.
Tonga, ranked 12th in the world, will undoubtedly provide a stiff test of England's fragile confidence.
Narrow victories over the USA and their Pacific Island neighbours Samoa put Tonga in with an outside chance of making it out of the group.
But it was their outstanding performance in defeat by South Africa which really marked them out as a serious threat to England’s chances of progress.
South Africa were forced to send their front-line players into the fray after Tonga took the lead, and the Springboks were fortunate to hold on for a 30-25 win.
England, meanwhile, showed signs of life in their 44-22 win over Samoa on Saturday after moribund performances against the USA and South Africa.
“I would like them to be a bit more direct (against Tonga),” said England coach Brian Ashton.
“We are always looking to the backs to manage the game provided we get the platform that we’re hoping to get up front.
“There was an improvement on that last week and I am expecting an improvement in that area this week as well.”
England collected their first bonus point of the tournament against Samoa thanks to tries from Martin Corry and Paul Sackey, but led by just four points with 11 minutes to go.
And Ashton is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his side at the Parc des Princes as they face their second effective knock-out match in eight days.
“We are still looking down the barrel of a gun,” he said.
“Tonga are probably a stronger side than Samoa and they are no longer the surprise team. They’ve played pretty well throughout and we have enormous respect for them.
“They have a massive enthusiasm, cohesion up front and an ability to stay in the game for 80 minutes, which has not always been the case.
“Any momentary lapse in concentration could cause us lots of problems.”
England captain Corry said his players would be confident without making the mistake of underestimating Tonga.
“We are going to have to win the game, and we expect to win the game, but that is taking nothing away from Tonga,” he said.
“They are coming into this game full of confidence, but we are just focusing on ourselves and looking to improve on what we did against Samoa.”