Lancaster not dejected
23 Jun 2012
England coach Stuart Lancaster lamented his side’s inability to snatch a morale-boosting win but was encouraged by the improvements made over the course of the tour.
History will reflect that England lost the series 2-0 but Lancaster was at pains to stress that the success of the tour shouldn’t be judged on their results alone, particularly considering that this group is in the infancy of their development.
‘In terms of developing experience and learning about players, we’ve gained valuable insights about strengths and weakness in the players and the game plan. You can do that without playing games. So to have five on this tour was brilliant in aiding that,’ he said.
‘On this result in particular, I’ve got mixed feelings, we’re desperately disappointed not to have got the win. Our mindset going in was strong and commitment and courage was exceptional. But disappointed to not have won, particularly at the end when we could have sneaked home.’
Lancaster pointed to their improved defensive showing as being most encouraging. England were blitzed in the opening quarter of last week’s Test in Johannesburg, a period that ultimately was decisive to the outcome. Their tackle fight in that time was poor, allowing the Springboks to control the tempo and flow of the match.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn was prominent at Ellis Park, but he struggled in the absence of such a platform this evening. Lancaster pointed to this as being central to their success in blunting the Springboks.
‘The key for us was when SA had possession we were robust in defence,’ he said. ‘[Steyn] tried to move the ball around and kick for field position, but we covered more of our bases [defensively] than we did last week. So I’d like to think [his performance] was partly due to our pressure and organisation. That made it difficult for him this week.’
He added: ‘There was technical ill-discipline at the breakdown that gave the Springboks a foothold in game. But overall we withstood their attacking barrage much better and that augers well for when we’ve had a good break and when they come to Twickenham in November.’