Lancaster praises battling England

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said he was proud of his players' battling fightback against South Africa in Johannesburg.

England fell 22-3 behind to the physically dominant Springboks after just 19 minutes of the second Test at Coca-Cola Park but fought back to within four points late on. They could not maintain the momentum as South Africa upped their tempo to win 36-27 and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series but Lancaster was pleased with his improving side.

He said: "Giving South Africa such a start put us under huge pressure but I am delighted with the boys in the second half and the pride in coming back to get the score back to 31-27. We were then pushing down the right wing and it is small margins."

He went on: "We recognise we can't start slowly that but there is a lot to take from it, a lot of positives. As we said at the outset, it is about developing experiences and learning and this group is certainly doing that."

He added: "Frustration is probably the overriding emotion but there is a mixture of pride and frustration. There was definitely a period in the first half when we were hanging on by our fingernails but we got the try early in the second half and got back the belief.

"The players that came off the bench made a difference and we played some good stuff in the second half, no doubt about it. But we left ourselves too much to do."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to England and felt his team would learn much from the manner of their eventual victory.

He said: "I think England played well. It was a gutsy performance coming back like that, especially at altitude. I think they can be proud of themselves.

"In the first half we played Super 15 rugby, and it was great to watch. But to put two performances like that together for 80 minutes is tough.

"You can't just go out and score tries, this is Test match rugby and you have to grind it out. We will learn a lot from games like that."