Despite winning back-to-back RBS 6 Nations titles Dylan Hartley admits England are ‘not quite there’ and believes a lot will be learned from the 13-9 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
England missed out on the chance to clinch back-to-back Grand Slam titles in their final game of the Championship, and captain Hartley admits the squad must now focus on improving if they are to become the number one team in the world.
“It’s a big lesson to learn; we set out to win this tournament and we have done, but we are disappointed not to win this final game,” he said. “We had high expectations on ourselves and it goes to show we are not quite there as a team.
“Ireland put us under unbelievable pressure and gave us one hell of a Test match so credit to them.
“We are not the finished article, this will keep us grounded. There is plenty of work to do.”
The defeat acted as England’s first loss under the stewardship of Eddie Jones, whose side had racked up a record-equalling 18 consecutive wins prior to Dublin.
Ireland led 10-3 at the end of the first stanza, courtesy of an Iain Henderson try and five points from the boot of Johnny Sexton.
Owen Farrell became only the second English player to break the 600 point barrier, and nudged England back into contention with two second half penalties, but constant pressure from the hosts at set piece and in defence frustrated Jones’ men, and proved too much to combat in the dying embers of the match."I hope this will be a massive lesson for us."
“We lacked in a couple of areas,” said England lock Joe Launchbury. “Discipline probably let us down; when you give away penalties, you end up playing down in your own half more than you want to.”
The 25-year-old says England can be proud of playing well throughout this year’s tournament, but admits his overriding emotion is one of disappointment in not securing a Grand Slam.
“Ireland played well and we knew the challenge coming here, we knew it would be a tough game, but ultimately we came up a bit short and we are very disappointed,” he said.
“We have done a lot of good stuff this tournament, so we are pleased to win it, but we came here today to try and win the Grand Slam and that has gone missing, so it is going to hurt."
He added: “But so long as we use it for positives then it is all well and good. I hope this will be a massive lesson for us.”