New Zealand 20 England 15: Stuart Lancaster rues missed chance
New Zealand 20 England 15: Stuart Lancaster rues a missed opportunity after a five-point loss at Eden Park
Stuart Lancaster rued a missed opportunity and admitted his disappointment as England suffered a 20-15 defeat to New Zealand in the first Test in Auckland.
The visitors had led 9-3 in the first half and 12-9 at Eden Park before Danny Cipriani’s penalty made it 15-15 in the closing stages, only for the All Blacks to pounce in the 78th minute through a Conrad Smith try to secure a 15th successive Test win.
There’s frustration at having not got across the line despite having done so much good work to achieve a draw or potentially even a win
“It definitely feels like we missed a chance,” Lancaster said. “At 15-15, it’s all about territory and how you manage and close out the game. It’s a drop-goal or penalty that wins it. They got the penalty and tapped and won it.
“We had opportunities to clear our line a bit and play in their half and put pressure on them. We’re desperately disappointed having fought so hard to be in the game for so long.
“It’s an 80-minute game and credit to them for closing it out. It was a tremendous effort and it’s tough to not come away with anything.”
A lack of creative flair led the game into a kicking battle between England outside-half Freddie Burns, who kicked four penalties, and New Zealand’s Aaron Cruden, who kicked five as it took New Zealand until the 71st minute to take the lead.
“There’s frustration at having not got across the line despite having done so much good work to achieve a draw or potentially even a win,” he added.
“We created lots of opportunities. We made line breaks, broke the gainline. Our set piece was good, but it’s fine margins.
“The overriding emotion in the changing room is frustration. What we must do as a coaching team is bottle that frustration and turn it into a positive mindset for next week.”
Despite the result, England will be boosted by the return of many star names who were unable to play after competing in last week’s Aviva Premiership final and Lancaster said England need to win in Dunedin next week.
“We definitely need to win the next Test to win the series. It’s a massive game for us because we always came into this series believing we can, but you must deliver,” he said.
“The game next week is huge for us because we want to tie the series and go to a decider in Hamilton believing we can win it.
“They will have a similar side while I imagine we’ll make a couple of changes. They will definitely improve, but we’ll improve as well.
“We’ll learn a lot from this game and we do that well as a team—we learn quickly.”