England have taken a big step forward according to Eddie Jones after they narrowly missed out on victory over New Zealand.
Despite racing into a 15-0 lead, England were eventually overhauled with Beauden Barrett kicking 11 points and setting up the only try in a 16-15 All Black victory.
Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley had crossed in the first half for England, while Sam Underhill had a try disallowed five minutes from time, but Jones believes his side will learn from this game.
And having finished fifth in the 2018 Six Nations, finishing with three straight defeats, Jones’ side appear to be returning to their best form following last week’s win over South Africa.
Jones said: “Fantastic game of rugby. We’re obviously devastated. You take the good with the bad, we’ll learn a lot from that. We had opportunities to win the game, we didn’t take them, they did so they deserved to win the game. All credit to New Zealand.
“It’s a really good step forward because you benchmark yourself against New Zealand. They are the best team in the world. We’ll get a lot of reward for the work that we’ve done. You look at it, they have been together for three months, we’ve been together for less than three weeks.
“They had 800 caps out there, we had 400 caps. We’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to fix the things that didn’t work and if we do that, we’re on our way to being the best team in the world which is what we’ve always set out to be.
“It was a good rugby tussle that we are only going to improve from.”
In sodden conditions, handling was always going to be difficult but England flew out of the blocks, with Ashton scoring the first try after just two minutes.
He collected Ben Youngs’ wide pass to cross, before Hartley was the beneficiary of remarkable rolling maul that featured almost the entire England team, even if they did not all know what they were doing.
Owen Farrell joked: “No (it wasn’t a plan). We saw that it started going forward and joined in. I don’t know what I was doing.”
England’s maul was a real weapon and they tried to use it to score a try early in the second half twice turning down shots at goal to kick to the corner.
It did not quite pay off, with a Kyle Sinckler knock-on ending the attack, but Jones and Farrell were agreed that it was still the right call.
Farrell added: “I felt like we had the ascendancy at the time. Our maul was going very well in the first half. Our forwards were itching to have a crack at them so we went for it and backed ourselves.”