- Gutted Chris Robshaw reflects on defeat to New Zealand at Twickenham
- "It hurts, everyone is struggling but we are moving forwards" – England captain
Struggling to move and nursing a badly swollen eye, Chris Robshaw could scarcely have given more as England strived to overturn a 14-point deficit and record an eighth victory over New Zealand in 36 Tests.
A second international try from Joe Launchbury and 17 points from the flawless boot of Owen Farrell were enough for Stuart Lancaster’s side to surge into a 22-20 lead on the hour mark, only to be undone by a moment of quality from Ma’a Nonu to lay on the match-winning try for Julian Savea.
Battered and bruised but unbowed, the England captain’s pain comes not from the eye which he says ‘is fine’ or the force of going to toe-to with Richie McCaw, but from the anguish of getting into a winning position against a team which has won 13 straight games in 2013.
Photo: Getty Images
“It hurts at the moment, everyone is struggling but we are moving forwards,” said Robshaw, England’s top tackler at Twickenham.
“I’m extremely proud of all the guys. The endeavour is there, the performance was there at times and to come back from that deficit was credit to all the players. But in our sport we’re judged on results, it’s as simple as that.
“Now it’s about learning. The difference at the moment is how clinical they [New Zealand] are, they get a sniff, they get an opportunity and they take it. There are no second invites, that’s what we need to be and that’s why they’re the best team around.”
Cogent analysis is always difficult in the immediate aftermath of a game but Robshaw is right. England, led by their dynamic and destructive pack, had 60 per cent possession and forced the visitors into making nearly twice as many tackles (152 to 87).
Reviewing that crucial last quarter when Steve Hansen’s team noticeably upped the intensity after falling behind for the first time in the game, Robshaw reflected that, despite having the match momentum, he should have called his troops together to refocus on the detail of the task.
Photo: Getty Images
“We really felt we could win the game at that stage,” he said. “But we made a couple of mistakes after that. You saw them go into huddle and refocus and potentially we need to do that too.
“Potentially it’s up to myself and the other game leaders to pull us in and galvanise us to get us back on track and I think about what we needed to do.
“The boys are pretty beaten up and pretty sore but there are a huge amount of positives to build on as we move forward.”
A harsh self-analysis, but typical of Robshaw’s leadership style of always looking at what he could have done better to help the team win. And, aside from their collective resolve, the main positive he wants to take on to the RBS 6 Nations, which starts against France in Paris on February 1, is the accuracy and brutality of the all-action pack.
Launchbury’s try came from a sustained spell of pressure in New Zealand’s 22 when Farrell kicked three successive penalties to touch and Robshaw believes England’s forwards are becoming a unit which can not only score tries but make statements against the best teams in the world.
He added: “As an English side we pride ourselves on stuff targeting scrums mauls. We want to have something that we can always go back to but also that can make statements.
“We weren’t leaving that corner without points and as a forward pack we wanted to send a message to say that we can not only compete but we can get over your line.”