England

Gutted Lancaster looks to positives

Sun, 02 Feb 2014 13:40
Lutherburrellfrance Owenfarrellfrance France-v-england
It was a great performance in lots of ways
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England head coach Stuart Lancaster was full of praise for his side's character after they were undone by Gael Fickou's late try against France in Paris on Saturday.

Lancaster's men were trailing 3-16 after 22 minutes after France wing Yoann Huget helped himself to two tries - on both occasions taking advantage of the bounce of the ball to dot down.

England romped back, however, with first international tries for Mike Brown, in his 22nd Test, and Luther Burrell in his first.

And thanks to a Danny Care drop-goal and a further penalty from replacement Alex Goode, England were within touching distance of a seventh victory over France in eight Six Nations clashes.

But France put together a string of phases to put teenage centre Fickou clear down the left and replacement scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud nailed the conversion from in front of the posts to seal a 26-24 win.

"At the start we put ourselves into a bit of a hole," said Lancaster. "But I thought the boys showed incredible character, resilience and a lot of skill to put ourselves in a position to win it.

"But a bit of French flair at the end and they got the win.

“Perhaps the bounce of the ball didn't go our way, losing a wing early and the disruption it caused, perhaps the bounce didn't go Danny Care's way either.

“But we need to control the things we can control. I thought we did that really well, and we can't rely on the bounce of the ball.

"It's a very difficult place to come and the crowd's up and I thought our young players learned a lot and I'm very proud of them.

“Five players in our pack were making their first start in France, and we have the youngest pack in the championship. I thought they did extremely well. We made numerous line breaks.

“It wasn't just Billy [Vunipola]; Joe Marler had a fantastic game, Ben Morgan and Tom Youngs were great when they came on, and the list goes on. We've learned a lot from this.

“It was a great performance in a lot of ways. We're very proud of that, and once we get rid of the original disappointment, we'll take a huge amount of positives from the game.

“Obviously, everything matters at this level. From our point of view, we've been working on those little errors and we need to make sure we get those little moments right.

“But overall, the positives in our performance surpass those moments, although we recognise we have to improve in order to win those big games.”

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree added that while he was unhappy with the scrums, a facet France dominated, he was pleased with the line-outs.

“A lot of the boys were starting for the first time, and I'm proud of their efforts. This is a tough place to come and play, against this tough pack.

“We've conceded six points with the scrum and I'll have a look at that, because we just can't do that. But I was also delighted with our line-out work, especially our line-out defence, with how we were challenging them with carrying and defensive work,” said Rowntree.

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