England

Gutted Lancaster sees progress

Sun, 24 Jun 2012 14:42
Stuart-lancaster-media-630
When you look at where we were and where we are now, I think we are in a good place
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England coach Stuart Lancaster, who said he was "gutted" not to win in Port Elizabeth, also spoke of the progress his team had made.

The English, who finished second in the Six nations this year, lost the three-Test series against the Boks 0-2 - playing to a respectable 14-all draw with the Boks in a rainy Port Elizabeth at the weekend, after 17-22 and 27-36 defeats in the previous matches.

"We wanted to win the game and the series," Lancaster said of his team's goals on their five match tour to South Africa - which saw the England second stringers twice beat a SA Barbarians selection in midweek outings.

"We failed, but there are plenty of positives to take as well.

"When you look at where we were and where we are now, I think we are in a good place," The England coach added.

"Go back six months and we lost a huge amount of experience out of this England side.

"When you take out Jonny Wilkinson, Simon Shaw, Mike Tindall and Lewis Moody - it takes time to rebuild.

"When Owen Farrell came on for Toby Flood we had Under-21 players wearing the No.10, No.12 and No.13 shirts.

"We have young lads making debuts and I thought Alex Goode was outstanding at full-back."

Lancaster said he was "delighted overall with the efforts the boys put in over the course of the tour".

England could have won the game at the death in PE, but flyhalf Owen Farrell's attempted drop-goal went well wide.

"It could have been won with the clock done - they're the small margins.

"We've got young lads making their debut - Alex Goode was outstanding at fullback.

"South Africa had over 500 caps in their side. We're a side just developing that experience."

Stand-in England captain Dylan Hartley was pleased with the way his side ended a difficult tour on the front foot in Port Elizabeth.

"It's been a tough tour - we've grafted hard, just haven't played for the full 80 minutes," he said.

"We strung together a full 80 minutes [in PE]. 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.

"A draw's a draw. We'll take it and look forward to playing the boys again in November in England."

Lancaster, in his first assignment since being appointed full-time, feels he has learned much and is already plotting the way forward.

"It has been a fantastic opportunity to take a wider group of players and work with them," he said of the tour.

"That has been the real benefit of the tour, getting a real understanding of the strengths and areas we need to look at to go forward.

"We should be getting to a point as a team where we are competitive and winning every game has got to be the mindset.

"We have now got a team of young players and experienced players coming through together in an environment they enjoy and the culture is strong. I think it augurs well for the future.

"But we didn't win the first two Tests and we drew the third - that ultimately means disappointment from my point of view.

"But there are a lot of positives we can take.

"In the last Test we could have used every excuse not to put in a performance but we didn't.

"We rolled our sleeves up and fought to the end. We possibly could have edged it at the end."

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