England 38-21 New Zealand, December 1
Farrell: We played like champions
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
December 2, 2012
Owen Farrell kicked four penalties, a drop-goal and a conversion © PA Photos
Owen Farrell hailed the "champions' attitude" which underpinned England's sensational 38-21 victory over New Zealand - and proved a point to the rest of the world.
Farrell kicked 17 points and overshadowed his illustrious opposite number Dan Carter as England powered their way to a record victory over the world champions. England went into the game on the back of frustrating defeats to Australia (20-14) and South Africa (16-15) while the All Blacks were on a 20-game unbeaten run.
The gulf in experience was vast. New Zealand boasted more caps in their front row than Stuart Lancaster's young team had in their entire starting XV. But England bridged that gap with a ferocious performance at Twickenham and delivered the victory they needed to validate their own belief and all the talk of improving performances.
"The belief has always been there. This win just solidifies that. We know that when we bring our game we can beat anybody," Farrell said. "We felt the performances were there but we didn't quite get the results we wanted. We felt like it was nearly there. I know on the outside people didn't think that.
"But the stuff that has been said on the outside has only made us tighter as a group. There is a lot of fight in this team, there is a champions' attitude and it showed out there. The boys put their bodies on the line and really worked hard to put the pressure on.
"We really put in a good performance and it can only do us good going forward. If we stick to our processes and do what we do well, we will challenge any team. If we take our game to them on the day, it doesn't matter who we are playing we are going to trouble them."
Farrell kicked three penalties and a drop goal to open England a 15-0 lead before the All Blacks hit them with two tries in three minutes, from Julian Savea and Kieran Read. At that moment, England's young team faced the biggest test of their character and they reacted in the way of champions with Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi all scoring in a three-try blitz.
"We knew they would come back and throw the kitchen sink at us. We know what a good team they are, that they would never lie down and be beaten," Farrell said. "Credit to them for fighting back but we always had belief in what we were doing and we never gave up and that showed in the way we played."
Farrell and Carter are both on the International Rugby Board's shortlist for world player of the year, along with Richie McCaw and Frederic Michalak. No one was more shocked by Farrell's inclusion than the Englishman himself but his performance eclipsed Carter's at Twickenham.
"There is no bigger admirer of him than me. I have watched him very closely," Farrell said. "We had a little chat after the game and swapped shirts. I was massively shocked to be on the list. I think I showed bits of what I can do today. I can always get better."
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