England take heart from PE battle

Sat, 23 Jun 2012 20:23

England coach Stuart Lancaster believes that the fighting draw his team earned in Port Elizabeth is proof of their positive development.

England showed great heart to bounce back from their ninth consecutive defeat to the Springboks and produced a fiery defensive performance to neutralise the host's powerful ball carriers.

Lancaster said that considering how much pressure his inexperienced team had been under they had shown good composure and could well have snatched victory.

"It could've been a win and they're the small margins but when Owen Farrell came on, we had under 21s at 10, 12 and 13. There was also Alex Goode making his debut and he was outstanding at fullback.

"The rain made it difficult for both sides. It was a tight game and I thought our defence was much better than last week, although a few penalties didn't go our way," Lancaster said after the game.
The England boss said that although it was not a victory, his team will take heart from the guts they showed at the end of a long season.

"I'm delighted with the boys' performance and the overall effort they've put in over the course of this tour. Overall, when you look at where we were and where we are now, I think we're in a good place," he said.

Skipper Dylan Hartley said that the difference had been that his side managed to maintain intensity throughout the match and focused on the defensive effort.

"Today we strung together a full 80 minutes. Defence was good, ball-retention was good - we just didn't come away with the result.

"In the last two games we've learned when the green machine gets going they're hard to stop. We took a bit of pride today in two-man tackles, getting it off the line, stopping their momentum," he said.
Lancaster did not want to comment on whether he will recruit former backs coach Andy Farrell who has just left Saracens, and said that he was happy with the job that Mike Catt had done in the role on tour.
"I'm going to be having a look at the coaching situations when I get back to England. I only got the job six weeks ago and Mike (Catt) has come in and done a fantastic job as backs coach," he added.