| 12.8°C Belfast

Lancaster: No need to panic


Stuart Lancaster insisted there was no need to press the panic button after England's defeat to South Africa

Stuart Lancaster insisted there was no need to press the panic button after England's defeat to South Africa

Stuart Lancaster insisted there was no need to press the panic button after England's defeat to South Africa

Stuart Lancaster insists there is no need to panic despite England's 31-28 loss to South Africa on Saturday - the team's fifth consecutive defeat.

England were far from their best at Twickenham and while two tries from David Wilson and Ben Morgan temporarily drew the Red Rose level at 20-20 in the second half, the Springboks ran out worthy winners.

The defeat, coming seven days after a convincing loss to New Zealand, furthers the suspicion England are a long way off winning the World Cup next year but Lancaster remains calm over his side's stuttering form.

"We'll not panic or lose our nerve and we'll not deviate from the course we're on," Lancaster said.

"We've played the top two sides in the world now and that's the benchmark for us.

"We've never said we're the finished article. When we took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

"Playing New Zealand first up (last week) was always going to be tough but we're not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves.

"I believe in the coaches, I believe in the players and I believe in what we're doing.

"It hurts to lose and to lose at Twickenham but the hurt can be turned into a positive.

"It's about learning who can and cannot deliver in 11 months' time because that's when it really does matter."

England were made to pay for a number of sloppy errors throughout the contest and a failure to adapt to the conditions on a wet afternoon in south London.

The Red Rose trailed 13-6 at half-time after Jan Serfontein intercepted Danny Care's pass for an early try and Cobus Reinach extended South Africa's lead with another score shortly after the restart.

Wilson and Morgan looked to have turned the match in England's favour with two driving touch-downs but Schalk Burger hit back immediately to put the Springboks in charge before Brad Barritt reduced the deficit late on.

"Having gone down 20-6, I thought the momentum we generated back in the game before we made any substitutions was a positive," Lancaster said.

"The frustration was giving points away when they didn't have to work hard to earn them.

"At international level every point matters and to give those points away early in the second half put us under some pressure."

Lancaster added: "It was one of those days when territory was going to be important and the South Africans benefited from our errors rather than constructing too much themselves.

"That's what we need to improve on. We need to be smarter if we're going to beat the top sides in the world as has been shown in the last two games."

England are expected to end their losing run next Saturday when they face a more generous opponent in Samoa, who are currently ranked 11th in the world rankings.

Lancaster is likely to give a number of fringe players the chance to impress before the team conclude their autumn campaign against Australia.

"This game probably confirms in my mind that it's the right thing to do," Lancaster said.

"We're not talking wholesale changes but there are some good players we need to find out about."

Lancaster added: "We need to narrow down in our minds who can deliver when the white-hot pressure is on in 11 months' time."

South Africa's victory represents a timely boost to the team's morale after a disappointing 29-15 defeat against Ireland last Saturday.

"I thought our defence was awesome," head coach Heyneke Meyer said.

"You have to play great rugby in these conditions without the ball and we used every single opportunity.

"Last week we didn't keep the ball, didn't respect the ball. Today I thought we were clinical and we took the right decisions."

The Springboks boss also believes England will turn their results around and go far at next year's World Cup.

"It's just a matter of time," Meyer added.

"You need luck, sometimes you make your own luck and then you get momentum.

"To play the All Blacks four times and then us, it's tough. That's what we found in the Rugby Championship well.

"I believe England can have a great World Cup and be a team in the final - h opefully we can meet them in the final at Twickenham."