France 26-24 England
Lancaster: 'We need to win big games'
ESPN Staff
February 1, 2014
France celebrate Yoann Huget's second score © Getty Images

England coach Stuart Lancaster said he was proud of his side despite their 26-24 loss to France but admitted "we need to win big games".

England managed to claw their way back into the match after going 16-3 down in the first-half to France. With just four minutes left in the match England held a five-point advantage but Gael Fickou's late try and Maxime Machenaud's conversion saw Les Bleus emerge triumphant.

"It was a great performance in lots of ways. We're very proud. Once we get over the initial disappointment we'll take a huge amount of positives from the game," Lancaster said. "Games are never won or lost in one moment. Everything matters at this level. It was a great Test match played by two great teams.

"Overall the positives of the performance will outweigh the result, but we recognise we need to win big games. Five of our pack made their first start in France. They were the youngest pack in the championship and they did extremely well.

"We've learned a lot from this game. We dominated the middle third and to claw our way back from 16-3 was great."

Both of Huget's tries were preceded by cruel bounces following kicks ahead, although England's wounds were also self-inflicted as they had committed mistakes themselves in the build-up.

"Perhaps the bounce of the ball didn't go our way, but we can only control the things we can control," Lancaster said. "We can't rely on the bounce of the ball, we need to be out of sight by that point."

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre celebrated a triumphant start to 2014 and highlighted the impact made by the two-week international training camp his players were granted by their Top 14 clubs.

"We were lucky to score two quick tries and then we had a very high quality first half," Saint-Andre said. "The second half was more difficult and we missed a few tackles. When we were 16-3 up we mismanaged the game.

"We were less aggressive and they put us under a lot of pressure. But when we had the ball there were more openings because England were winning fewer collisions.

"We must remember we have won the game and this is a very good start for 2014. This is not a revolution, more an evolution. Without these two weeks of preparation we wouldn't have won this game, so thank you to the clubs.

"Modern rugby is very demanding so we really needed this preparation time."

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