England coach Stuart Lancaster hails character of players after narrow defeat in Dunedin
Last Updated: 14/06/14 4:23pm
England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted there were plenty of positives to take from his side’s 28-27 defeat in the second Test in Dunedin which saw New Zealand take an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Lancaster hailed the character of his side who had gone in at half-time with a 10-6 lead and with high hopes of avenging last week’s agonising loss in Auckland.
When we look at the tape and the opportunities we missed, we'll be a better side. We are playing a side at the top of their game and went toe-to-toe with them.
But New Zealand moved through the gears at the start of the second period and blew the tourists away with a 22-point burst that took the game out of reach.
England did respond with late tries from Mike Brown and Chris Ashton to add more than a touch of respectability to the scoreline, although they never really threatened to alter the result.
Regardless of that fact, Lancaster was proud of the resilience and attitude of his troops who he felt had the world champions rattled after their encouraging first half display.
"We showed some great character and great class," he told Sky Sports. "We had one or two opportunities we didn't take. We had them under pressure but in the third quarter they were exceptional.
"We got back to 28-27 and that's great character. We played well in the first half but if you kick loosely their back three can kill you.
"When we look at the tape and the opportunities we missed, we'll be a better side. We are playing a side at the top of their game and went toe-to-toe with them.
"We have quality players back in England. We won't pat ourselves on the back for losing by a point."
All Blacks chief Steve Hansen echoed Lancaster’s sentiments and paid tribute to the spirit shown by the tourists.
But he felt his team had emerged as worthy winners after a second-half display that combined intensity, accuracy and physicality.
“It was a great game of rugby,” Hansen commented. "Sometimes there is only one point in it and England never gave up and scored on full-time.
"We can be very proud of our performance."