- Stuart Lancaster on the impact of Wales "winning the collisions" on Saturday
- Head Coach says players are gutted but will learn valuable lessons
Stuart Lancaster believes Wales’ physical superiority was the crucial factor in their record victory in Cardiff and says England will have learnt a valuable lesson as they develop into a side capable of winning trophies.
Two second-half tries from Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert meant Grand Slam chasing England left the Millennium Stadium empty handed, with Wales captain Gethin Jenkins lifting the title after the 30-3 victory.
To achieve victories at the highest level, Lancaster knows England must play to their full potential and that any inadequacies on the day will be cruelly exposed, with his side discovering that in an unequivocal manner on Saturday.
Speaking immediately after the record defeat to Wales, he said: “To win at the highest level you’ve got to get everything right on a consistent basis and if you’re five per cent off, whether it’s physicality or execution, then in places like the Millennium Stadium you’ll get hurt.
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“Wales retained the ball well at the breakdown, there’s no doubt about that. We had to look at the referee’s interpretation of it, we had to adjust and it was a bit disappointing that we had to do that. But we don’t make any excuses, their ball carriers won the collisions and that normally wins the game.”
England were approaching parity in terms of collisions and the tackle area at the end of the second half and Lancaster said they went in at half time feeling optimistic about their prospects despite the Leigh Halfpenny’s three penalties giving the hosts a 9-3 lead.
The perception in the dressing room was that Wales were tiring and England could up the tempo after the break but instead back row pair Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric raised the intensity and laid on Cuthbert’s two tries in ten minutes.
Lancaster said: “We felt ok at half time, we felt that they were getting tired and that we could up the tempo in the second half but that try was critical, 12-3 to 17-3 and suddenly the gap seems massive and you’re chasing the game.
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“In the third quarter their attrition told on us in terms of how many tackles we had to make, and obviously we didn’t get much set-piece ball, gradually as the game wore on we made error on error, which made a bad job worse.”
So soon after a game, especially a defeat, it is difficult to look at the bigger picture, but successive second place finishes and only a second loss in 10 RBS 6 Nations game is a record which can be viewed with some satisfaction.
Asked whether he can take pride in his record against European nations – home and away victories against France and Ireland included – Lancaster added: “It doesn’t feel like that at the moment.
“I’m gutted for the players, they’ve worked so hard during this Six Nations and so hard during this 14 months to develop themselves. To lose the Grand Slam and the Championship in a manner like this, it’s gutting for them.”