- Centre explains bitter disappointment of Le Crunch loss
- “It’s just about raising the bar for next week” – Burrell
Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell admitted a maiden try on his Test debut at the Stade de France was scant consolation for England’s last-gasp defeat in their opening match of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations.
Burrell powered over from 25 metres after Billy Vunipola had made huge inroads off the shoulder of Owen Farrell, but said the pain of such a gut-wrenching loss was the pervading feeling in the away dressing.
After two rather fortunate tries from Toulouse wing Yoann Huget after bouncing kicks had fired Les Bleus into 16-3 lead, Stuart Lancaster’s side clawed their way back into the contest and – 24-19 ahead with 76 minutes on the clock – were on the verge of their biggest ever comeback in an international.
However, teenager Fickou sauntered over and fellow replacement Maxime Machenaud converted to clinch Le Crunch 26-24.
“Across the board we’re hugely disappointed,” said Burrell shortly after the final whistle in Paris. “It’s difficult to swallow really. We were in that game and we can’t afford to get off to a slow start [again]. The bounce of the ball didn’t quite go our way on a couple of occasions.
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“Massive applause goes to the guys for getting themselves back into it. At 16-3 down we were in a tough position but got back in front again until the 78th minute.
“We’ll regroup on Monday and have a look at what went right and what went wrong. Next week we’re up in Scotland. It isn’t going to be an easy game over there but fingers crossed we can get a win.”
Turning away from the end result briefly, the 26 year-old looked back self-deprecatingly on his 47th-minute score, which put England in front for the first time in the enthralling encounter.
“Full credit goes to Billy,” he explained, preferring to credit his No.8's exceptional carry. “I thought he was going to go the length himself. As it was, I just got on the end of a brilliant piece of play from him. It was a very proud moment though, and to get all the boys around me was fantastic.”
Finally, Burrell highlighted the doggedness that drove England back into contention from a seemingly lost position – vowing that such resolve would be built on against Scotland this weekend.
“We’ve got a lot of character in this team and there is a great culture,” he added. “We have a great captain too with a lot of experience elsewhere. We were able to regroup and find out what was going wrong and fix things.
“There are a lot of positives – we managed to retain the ball and create some scoring opportunities. We offloaded well too, and managed to create a lot of tempo in the game. It’s just about raising the bar for next week.”