England taught harsh lessons
1:28pm Saturday 21st June 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted he was forced to read his under-performing team the riot act at half-time of Saturday's 36-13 rout by New Zealand.
The All Blacks had amassed a 29-6 interval lead after exploiting a passive defence with Julian Savea and Aaron Smith plundering two tries each.
Disaster beckoned in the second half of the climax to the series at the Waikato Stadium, but an improved England responded with a touch down from Marland Yarde.
"We had some pretty sharp words at half-time and we showed a lot more urgency and intensity in the second half and that was reflected in the performance," Lancaster said.
"There's two or three opportunities that we missed and we scored the try."
Narrow losses in Auckland and Dunedin had already placed the series beyond reach, leaving England with the goal of salvaging some pride from the final Test.
Instead, they were blown away as the All Blacks registered a record-equalling 17th successive victory with the deadly Savea claiming his eighth try in four games against the Red Rose.
"We fought hard for two Tests and fought hard in the second-half of the third, but we are behind them in all areas at the moment," Lancaster said.
"For us to win at this level we need to be better and we know that.
"The objective ultimately was to come and win the series and we haven't achieved that, so in that regard we are hugely disappointed.
"But we've shown enough to demonstrate we are a young team on the up and we have a lot of growth still in us."
England's feeble first-half tackling was punished by the brilliant All Blacks, who should have scored at least two more tries with their head coach Steve Hansen admitting they became "greedy".
Kyle Eastmond repeatedly waved New Zealand's midfield through and as a result was replaced by Luther Burrell at half-time.
Assistant coach Andy Farrell offered an honest assessment of England's shortcomings and reflected on Eastmond's ordeal just two weeks after the Bath centre had starred in the first Test.
"Our defence started poorly and it got worse. We were reactive instead of going and getting them, which our defence has always been about," Farrell said.
"We certainly weren't anywhere near 80 per cent and you need all hands on deck to play an international game.
"The first half wasn't good enough and we have something in black and white now for what intensity looks like and what it definitely doesn't look like.
"I chatted with Kyle for 10 minutes and he's disappointed. Two or three weeks ago we were talking about the progress he's made and everyone was raving about his performance in Auckland.
"You don't become a bad player overnight by any. It's the intensity part that he struggled with.
"Kyle's got all the skills, he was just a bit off the pace as far as getting set and being ready to go were concerned."
New Zealand became the third team to string together 17 Test victories and have the opportunity to break the record when they face Australia in Sydney on August 16.
Talk of the achievement was banned by the All Blacks in the build up to Saturday's showdown in Hamilton, but captain Richie McCaw finally admitted his team have set it as an objective.
"You don't make a big deal of the record but it's something we're keen to achieve. We want it outright," McCaw said.
"We acknowledge it and then work out how to achieve it. It's about preparing well and getting ready to perform. If we get that right we'll add the win we want."