Stuart Lancaster: England need to be smarter to beat world’s best

England head coach left frustrated after another defeat by just three points as South Africa leave Twickenham victorious

Stuart Lancaster believes England must be smarter if they are to defeat the world’s best rugby nations.

The England head coach was left disappointed as his side lost by 31-28 to South Africa on another wet afternoon at Twickenham – the second successive weekend that they have lost by just three points.

“You cannot fault the players for honesty, but we needed to be smarter,” Lancaster said.

“All credit to South Africa for their victory, but we made it easy for them by putting ourselves under pressure, especially in the first-half.”

The result means England have lost all five matches since their final match in the Six Nations in March, four of which were against New Zealand, and Lancaster is already preparing changes for next week’s match against Samoa as he admits that some of his players aren’t ready for the challenge against the best in the world.

“We want to learn about players, who can and who cannot deliver,” he added.

“I have already thought about the changes that will be made for Samoa.

“This series was always about winning and we have not managed to achieve that so far, albeit against the best two sides in the world.

“We have 10 matches to go before the World Cup and they are all important.”

Trailing 13-6 at half-time, the Red Rose were 20-6 down in the second half before tries from prop David Wilson and number 8 Ben Morgan got the scoreline to 20-20, but they were unable to push on for a much-needed win as Schalk Burger hit back immediately.

Saracens centre Brad Barritt got a late third try for England, but it was consolation with the Springboks out of reach.

The defeat means England’s dismal record against South Africa continues, with their last win coming at Twickenham in 2006, but the England boss is refusing to get too down heartened by another defeat, despite next year’s Rugby World Cup at the forefront of most conversations.

“We’ll not panic or lose our nerve and we’ll not deviate from the course we’re on,” he said.

“We’ve played the top two sides in the world now and that’s the benchmark for us.

“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

“Playing New Zealand first up was always going to be tough, but we’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves.

“I believe in the coaches, I believe in the players and I believe in what we’re doing.

“It hurts to lose and to lose at Twickenham but the hurt can be turned into a positive.

“It’s about learning who can and cannot deliver in 11 months’ time, because that’s when it really does matter.”

Lancaster admits there were some positives to take out of the defeat, but was left frustrated by giving away easy points.

“Having gone down 20-6, I thought the momentum we generated back in the game before we made any substitutions was a positive,” he said.

“The frustration was giving points away when they didn’t have to work hard to earn them.

“At international level every point matters and to give those points away early in the second half put us under some pressure.

“It was one of those days when territory was going to be important and the South Africans benefited from our errors rather than constructing too much themselves.

“That’s what we need to improve on. We need to be smarter if we’re going to beat the top sides in the world as has been shown in the last two games.”

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