- Ben Morgan happy to make second Test selection tough for Lancaster
- No.8 took all carries over the gainline and made 12 tackles against All Blacks
Ben Morgan believes England’s stirring performance at Eden Park has created a host of selection dilemmas for head coach Stuart Lancaster ahead of the second Test in Dunedin next Saturday.
Despite having 15 players sat watching in the stands after the Aviva Premiership final, New Zealand only took the lead for the first time in the 68th minute beforeConrad Smith’s late try clinched an enthralling Test match which was evenly poised at 15-15.
Gloucester No.8 Morgan was one of those to impress with a display of aggressive ball-carrying and shrewd decision-making at the breakdown, as the pack edged the contest against a side on 14-game winning run.
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Fly half Freddie Burns, inside centre Kyle Eastmond, flanker James Haskell and hooker Rob Webber were also among a number who played with poise and bravery in front of Owen Farrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley, with the full 47-man group to train together for the first time tomorrow.
Outlining that, while the squad will continue to push each other to get better, there is a real team-first mentality, Morgan said: “The confidence is high in this group and everyone that played gave a good account of themselves. That’s going to be a bit of headache for Stuart next week but it’s great to have that competition. We are all looking forward to [training] next week.
“There’s competition throughout the squad but that’s what we need, it brings the best out of people. That’s what we want, we need to have that and it keeps everyone on their toes. But we’re a tight-knit group, we’re playing for each other and that’s what you can see when we pull on the shirt.”
Morgan had one of the finest games of his 21-Test England career against All Blacks, part of a pack with had both scrum and lineout operating at 100 per cent. Individually the 25 year-old took all of his carries across the gainline – including an eye-catching, pressure-reliving 40-metre charge from a scrum near England’s line – and made 12 tackles, the second highest in the team.
He agreed it was “fair to say” that England had the better of New Zealand up-front but said they were ultimately let down by too many errors that handed the initiative and crucial field position to the hosts.
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With the two games of the three-Test series to play, Morgan added: “We take a lot of confidence forwards; for the majority of that match we were either level or in the lead.
“We believe in what we’re about and I think the way we played showed that. There are a few things that we need to tidy up, obviously giving them ball in certain areas of the field where we don’t intend it. I think that was perhaps the difference.
“I haven’t really had a chance to think about my performance to be honest; I’m just bitterly disappointed with the loss. When we look at the game we’re going to see the opportunities that we missed and the mistakes we made. They are the sort of small margins that we’ve got to get right if we want to go and win this next Test match."