- Chris Robshaw reflects on defensive problems in opening half
- Second-half comeback of little comfort with series lost to Boks
Chris Robshaw said England’s defensive weapons failed to fire in the first half of the second Test defeat to South Africa in Johannesburg and 25 points conceded were too much to overturn.
England’s biggest ever deficit to overturn for a Test win in currently 12 points –the 32-31 victory over Australia in 2002 – and despite trailing by 19 points in the first half, Stuart Lancaster’s side rallied and closed the gap to four, only for a late JP Pietersen try to seal the Springboks’ 36-27 win.
Photo: Getty Images
England deserve immense credit for giving their vastly more experienced hosts a real scare through Leicester Tigers pair Ben Youngs and Toby Flood but that was of little solace to the England captain, who said South Africa won the collisions at the tackle area.
England conceded four tries in a Test for the first time in almost four years and the 26-year-old said: “Throughout the Six Nations and last week our defence was a massive weapon.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t there for us, our line speed wasn’t quite there, we weren’t winning the collisions and that allowed them to get over the gain line. They’ve got some big runners and play a direct game – as soon as they’re over the gain line they get momentum and scored a couple of tries.
“You come to places like this and it’s never going to be easy to overturn. Whether you win the first or second half it is about winning overall and we didn’t do that.”
England were really up against in during the first 40 minutes, having only 29 per cent territory and 30 per cent possession as they went into the Ellis Park dressing room 25-10 down.
But as the Harlequins skipper mentioned, England won the second half 17-11 and turned the territory and possession around to such an extent that they finished on 53 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.
Photo: Getty Images
The team can be encouraged by their collective spirit and determination as they look towards the final Test in Port Elizabeth next Saturday but Robshaw said that only matters if they start the game in the right manner.
Robshaw, who snaffled four turnovers at the breakdown for the second successive Test, added: “Of course there is character and pride to take from that but the biggest feeling coming out of the changing room is disappointment.
“The problem was we started so badly to allow them to go 10 points up in the first five minutes and have a 15-point deficit at half time.
“We’re playing for pride next week, we want to go out there and perform and it will be a little consolation but, even though we’ve lost the series, hopefully we can pull one back. We know it’s not going to be easy and we’ve got a lot to work on but we want to go to Port Elizabeth and get a win.”