Stuart Lancaster claimed England did not underestimate Australia before the 20-14 Cook Cup defeat
Last Updated: November 18, 2012 8:49am
England head coach Stuart Lancaster insists England must learn the lessons of life at the top level of Test rugby after a 20-14 Cook Cup defeat by Australia at Twickenham.
A Manu Tuilagi try and three Toby Flood penalties saw England lead 14-11 at half-time before full-back Berrick Barnes landed three second-half scoring kicks to add to Nick Cummins' first-half try, the wing's first for his country, to seal an upset.
Full-back Barnes landed a drop goal for good measure in the opening half but the defeat, crucially, could have long-term significance as it means England, currently ranked fifth in the world, are now unlikely to earn a top four seeding for the 2015 World Cup on home soil.
Lancaster said: "I'm disappointed we lost but I thought Australia played a smart game and bounced back from their defeat against France last week and were competitive in all areas.
"There were lots of positives from our own performance but the reality is we needed to take the opportunities we created, especially in the last 20 minutes when we thought our tempo would pay.
"They are the lessons we have to learn for South Africa next week."
Lancaster, however, was upbeat, believing his players can turn things around for their encounter against South Africa next weekend.
"They are all must-win games," he admitted. "We're devastated to have lost this game. We didn't quite take our opportunities and at this level we must take it. They managed the breakdown better."
Asked if seven days was enough time to put things right, Lancaster added: "Of course it is. Every game's a new game. You learn, review and move on.
"We have got to be better. Australia proved in their 18-18 draw with New Zealand they can put out a performance at the top end and they have done that today. We'll look at the tape and talk it through, train and learn our lessons."
"We have got to be better. Australia proved in their 18-18 draw with New Zealand they can put out a performance at the top end and they have done that today.
"We'll look at the tape and talk it through, train and learn our lessons."
England defence coach Andy Farrell was also impressed with the Australian performance.
He said: "Australia played a very smart game. Their attack was good and asked a lot of questions. We weathered the storm but theirs was a messy breakdown and penalties and it was stop-start.
"But all round you have to take your hat off to Australia. They didn't look desperate, they looked controlled."