London - England coach Stuart Lancaster has insisted there would be no panic
after Saturday's 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham made it five
straight defeats for the 2015 World Cup hosts less than a year out from
the showpiece tournament.
"We've played the top two sides in the
world now and that's the benchmark for us," said Lancaster, appointed in
2012 following England's loss to France in the quarter-finals of the
2011 World Cup.
"We've never said we're the finished article. When
we (the coaching staff) took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a
young group of players through some tough environments.
New Zealand first up was always going to be tough but we're not going
to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves," he added.
"I believe in the coaches, I believe in the players and I believe in what we're doing.
you've got a team like ours which has still got some development to do,
we'll not panic or lose our nerve, and we'll not deviate from the
course we're on," Lancaster said.
Although England were missing
several British and Irish Lions forwards through injury at a rain-swept
'headquarters', their pack matched the Springboks at the set-pieces of
scrum and line-out.
But a back division missing sidelined centres
Manu Tuilagi and Luther Burrell was again found wanting, just at it had
been in another three-point loss, the 24-21 defeat by world champions
New Zealand with which England started their November international
South Africa were 20-6 up early in the second half,
following tries by centres Jan Serfontein and scrum-half Cobus Reinach,
before England, capitalising on the sin-binning of Victor Matfield, saw
prop David Wilson and replacement No 8 Ben Morgan driven over for scores
that levelled the match at 20-20.
But despite still being a man
down, the Springboks scored a try through flanker Schalk Burger before
impressive fly-half Pat Lambie's drop-goal meant South Africa-born
England centre Brad Barritt's 79th-minute try came too late to change
England have now lost five
Tests in a row -- albeit four were against the All Blacks -- and this is
their worst run since suffering seven straight defeats in 2006.
Next weekend's Twickenham encounter with second-tier Samoa should snap that streak.
if England lose their November finale at home to World Cup pool
opponents Australia, it will mean they've beaten by all the 'Big Three'
southern hemisphere nations in a matter of weeks.
And that would
be a huge concern for England given they are likely to have beat at
least two of those sides, if not all three, if they are to win the World
"We had a lot of ball but played slightly in the wrong
areas of the field which put us under pressure," said Lancaster as he
reflected on England's 12th straight Test against the Springboks without
a win, a run comprising 11 defeats and a draw.
"You wouldn't criticise the players for their efforts but they need to be smarter and manipulate the field position more.
"It hurts to lose, and to lose at Twickenham, but the hurt can be turned into a positive."
Lancaster added: "This series is obviously about winning first and foremost and we haven't achieved that in the first two games.
"We've also talked about learning and developing as a group as we go into the World Cup.
"We need to narrow down in our minds who, when the white-hot pressure is on in 11 months' time, can deliver.
"That's when it really does matter."