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England rugby coach defiant after Bok loss
By Julian Guyer
13:17 AEST Sun Nov 25 2012

England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted his rugby side could give world champions New Zealand a run for their money despite Saturday's 16-15 loss to South Africa at Twickenham.

The All Blacks will arrive in England for the December 1 clash on a 20-match unbeaten run following Saturday's 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff.

New Zealand have won their past nine Tests against England, with the Red Roses' most recent defeat of the All Blacks a 15-13 success in Wellington shortly before they won the 2003 World Cup.

But having seen England improve their scrum and breakdown work against the Springboks, after being outplayed in both departments during the preceding 20-14 loss to Australia, Lancaster was bullish.

"We didn't win but there is enough there from a young side to give us the confidence that we will go on to win long term," he said.

"It's hugely disappointing, but I certainly do not go into the All Blacks game worrying that we won't get a performance."

England have yet to beat a major southern hemisphere nation under Lancaster, with three Tests in South Africa in June yielding two defeats before a 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth.

They might have headed into Lancaster's first Test against New Zealand with a morale-boosting win but Willem Alberts's converted try early in the second half, which gave South Africa a 10-point lead, ultimately proved decisive.

However, England had a chance to clinch victory at the death.

They were 16-12 behind when, with just two minutes left, England captain Chris Robshaw, heavily criticised for turning down kickable penalties in the defeat by Australia, chose to go for goal rather than opt for an attacking line-out that could have led to a match-winning try.

Replacement fly-half Owen Farrell, on for Toby Flood whose toe injury could rule him out of facing New Zealand, duly landed the kick but that still left England a point behind and they were unable to gather the re-start.

The controversy surrounding Robshaw's decision was compounded by the fact he initially told Farrell to go for the posts, only for the Saracens stand-off to shake his head.

Openside flanker Robshaw then appeared to ask referee Nigel Owens if he could change his mind but, by then, the Welsh official had signalled the goal-kick.

Afterwards, Lancaster defended his skipper by saying: "I'm not going to talk about one individual decision over another, not immediately after a game.

"We discuss all the decisions. Some we get right, some we don't get right and that's part of any side's development.

"We're just disappointed to have lost a game we felt we could have won.

"The purpose of having a captain in a team is that he makes decisions and the players back him. That's what should happen. Was that the game-changing moment? There were lots of moments."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said his first year in charge of the Springboks had gone as well as he could have expected.

"You have to dig deep and grind out the wins," Meyer said after a year in which the team netted eight wins from 12 matches.

"I believe that this was one thing this team couldn't do.

"We played well once we were on the front foot and could throw the ball around but I think the one thing we've added to our play is the defence and grinding out wins."