Defeat leaves Brown feeling blue


Published: Sunday 9th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Mike Brown is struggling to accept the 24-21 defeat by New Zealand in Saturday’s QBE opener after conceding England fell short once again.

Stuart Lancaster’s men slumped to a fifth successive loss to the All Blacks, who departed Twickenham treasuring an important victory in the arena that will host the knockout stages of next year’s World Cup.

Apart from Jonny May’s stunning early try and the unwillingness to concede defeat that has become a permanent feature of England under Lancaster, there was little to applaud.

The score flattered the 2015 World Cup hosts and Brown refuses to excuse another failed assault on one of the southern hemisphere giants.

“At the moment I’m going to have a little sulk because we came up short – again,” Brown said.

“If we’re brutally honest, it’s another ‘what if?’. We’re here to win and again we’ve let it go.

“We’ve got to start putting these games away and there is massive disappointment at the moment.

“We’re a competitive bunch of lads and this is a feeling of disappointment that is hard to put into words.

“It’s hard not to react too emotionally because there is such disappointment within the camp.

“We’re just annoyed that again we’ve gone so close. We’re here to win and we didn’t.”

Next up for England in a demanding autumn schedule are a South Africa team reeling from their 29-15 rout by Ireland.

Lancaster has faced calls to make changes to his starting XV in response to the failings in game management seen in the second half on Saturday, although the absence of seven British and Irish Lions through injury narrows his options.

“We felt good enough to beat New Zealand but didn’t, so we’ll look at why we didn’t. We have to get over this quickly because we’ve got another massive Test coming,” Brown said.

“We have to react positively, but it’s also good to have these disappointments in the back of your mind because it fuels you to get better and fuels you to put it out there on the pitch the next opportunity you get.

“I hope I get that opportunity next weekend because I’m pretty annoyed.”

Lancaster felt more should have been made of the chances created in an impressive opening quarter, the best of which saw Brown spill forward a great pass from Kyle Eastmond with the whitewash beckoning.

“That happened quite early on. You can’t focus on one thing like that. I did my best to stop a few chances for them. I will scrutinise myself like I always do,” Brown said.

England have 11 more games before they launch their World Cup campaign against Fiji and a victory against South Africa is essential if they are to prove they are genuine contenders.

“The players know the reasons why and understand already why we didn’t nail that game,” Lancaster said.

“The trick is to translate that into winning performances. I don’t think losing a game like this dents your self-belief, but clearly you want to win by three and not lose by three.

“There might be one or two changes here and there – I thought the bench did well when they came on. Ben Morgan did well.

“There’s no doubt about it – it is a big game against South Africa, but it was always going to be win, lose or draw.”

Lancaster could rightly feel aggrieved that referee Nigel Owens declined to consult the TMO for Aaron Cruden’s 14th minute try, with replays suggesting he had lost control of the ball in the act of scoring.

“A lot did go to the video ref after that. We’ll talk about that with the referees’ assessor in the normal way. We need to look at that decision,” Lancaster said.

Cruden, however, was happy with a score that swept New Zealand back into contention after a slow start.

“I’m pretty confident I got across the line and Nigel was too. When it was played in slow motion the crowd weren’t too happy,” Cruden said.

“Nigel obviously backed his decision and it was in favour of us. You can’t complain with a call like that.”

Published: Sunday 9th November 2014 by The News Editor

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