New Zealand 36-13 England
Andy Farrell - 'First-half started poor and it got worse'
Tom Hamilton at Waikato Stadium
June 21, 2014
Aaron Smith scored two first-half tries against England © Getty Images
England coach Andy Farrell said their first-half performance "wasn't good enough" and said the team received a lesson in intensity from the rampaging All Blacks.
England fell 36-13 in Hamilton and have lost the series 3-0 to New Zealand. The scoreline could have been uglier from an England point-of-view with the All Blacks putting in what was almost the complete performance in the first-half as they scored four tries and left two others on the field.
It was a chastening experience for England and Farrell admitted they were some way off the pace.
"It started poor and it got worse," Farrell said. "From the start - from the short kick-off to a couple of errors at the back in our 22 and they've taken such a quick line out we're not even set or ready to go so we're behind the eight ball straight away and all of a sudden we're being reactive instead of going and getting them which our defence has always been about.
"We certainly weren't anywhere near 80% and we need all hands on deck to play an international game. Against the All Blacks, third game in a row, you need to be proactive in what you do, not reactive and the minute you're behind the mainline it becomes a snowball and we didn't stop it for 25 minutes. The first half wasn't good enough and we have something in black and white now for what intensity looks like and what intensity definitely doesn't look like."
And Ben Youngs echoed Farrell's sentiments saying the first-half performance was unacceptable. "We let ourselves down and left ourselves with a mountain to climb," Youngs told Sky Sports. "Against New Zealand you can't leave yourself with such a huge chase and we paid the price."
Asked what went wrong, Youngs said: "I really don't know, we'll have to have a look at it. We pride ourselves on defence and spend a lot of time on it but the first half wasn't good enough. Whether it was individual mistakes or collectively we'll have to have a look but you can't give them that big a lead and expect to be in the game."
Harsh words - "probably unbroadcastable", according to Youngs - were exchanged at half-time before England came out much improved. "They were honest words, this is an honest group.
"The second half things came off a little bit more but the damage was done. We put in great performances before this but you'll remember how we did in the last game... Unfortunately today puts a dampener on what we did in the first games.
"It's just tough lessons against these boys. This is a young squad with a World Cup coming up and it's about getting more and more experience. Unfortunately you have to go through these games to get experience."
For Lancaster, he admits the All Blacks are setting the benchmark on the day they recorded their 17th straight win and admitted England must improve across the board if they to reach that level of intensity
"The record demonstrates they are the best and to have won that many games consistently against teams who are ranked second or third in the world," Lancaster said. "They have a great blend of athletic talent and ability, skillset, experience, continuity and consistency.
"We fought hard for two Tests and fought hard in the third, well the second-half, but we were behind them in all those areas at the moment. When I look back and reflect, I'll think of the positives as a team - the second-half performance here, 60 minutes in the second Test and 70 in the first. For us to win at this level we need to be better and we know that."
But despite losing the series 3-0, Lancaster is adamant there are positives to be drawn from their trip to New Zealand.
"We've learnt a lot about the players, without any doubt, and when you're developing a team as the All Blacks did from 2004 and 2007, they were in a similar position to us and I was reading about the 17 different wingers they played.
"We're in that period but we've learnt a lot about the players, certainly in the last three weeks which has been great and we'll take that into next season and we'll build and have those six or seven Premiership games and we have a World Cup squad to pick in a year's time. We need to get everything right."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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