South Africa v England: Stuart Lancaster frustrated by defeat
Stuart Lancaster describes England's 36-27 defeat by South Africa as"frustrating" but insisted he is proud of his players
Stuart Lancaster has admitted his frustration at England’s 37-27 defeat by South Africa on Saturday which ended their hopes of winning the Test series.
It was disappointing display from England, who despite mounting a spirited second-half challenge, again failed maintain the intensity of their attack for a whole half.
“It was tight. The boys are frustrated but we’ve got to bottle that frustration,” said Lancaster.
“The try gave us the confidence. We grew, the scrum got better and we started to win collisions.”
It was always an uphill challenge for the men in white after conceding a controversial Willem Alberts try after four minutes.
South Africa were relentless in their attack and after getting an early breakthrough, gathered momentum and looked as if they might build-up a cricket score at one point – ultimately a testament to England’s refusal to fold in the toughest of rugby environments.
It was perhaps some of the best rugby the Springboks have produced since 2007, but their coach Heyneke Meyer rightly paid tribute to England’s resolute defense and character for getting back into the match.
“It was a gutsy performance coming back like that, especially at altitude. I think they can be proud of themselves,” he told Sky Sports.
As far as individual performances were concerned, England’s best player was Ben Youngs. This match was a welcome return to form for the Leicester scrum-half who was largely responsible for England’s second-half rejuvenation.
Youngs was sniping, increasing the speed of play and crucially dictating the pace of the game. It is these qualities that England must continue to produce, and more players must follow his lead.
Young London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph was given something of a baptism of fire with a Test debut against South Africa, away and at altitude.
Given that England rarely touched the ball in the first half, the flyer did not get a chance to prove his attacking qualities but was sound on defense amidst wave after wave of green attack.
Toby Flood was given a chance to start at fly-half at the expense of Owen Farrell, and he experienced mixed fortunes. The Leicester Tiger’s pivot produced an assured display with the boot and supported well to score a try.
However, he did not provide the flair which Lancaster was looking for as he failed to take the attack to the game line, while also looking tentative when defending.
Despite the disappointment of another defeat, losing to a team with 300 more Test caps-worth of experience on the opposition’s home turf cannot be viewed as a failure for England.
As such the aim going into the last Test in Port Elizabeth will be to build on the gutsy defense and great 20 minutes England had in the second half.