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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 14:44 GMT
Mitchell refuses to step down
New Zealand's Carlos Spencer
Playmaker Carlos Spencer was one of a number of players below par
New Zealand coach John Mitchell insists he will not resign despite a shock Rugby World Cup defeat by Australia.

The All Blacks were outplayed in a game many expected them to win, but Mitchell made no excuses for the 22-10 semi-final loss in Sydney.

"Our execution was poor and we did not deserve victory," he said.

"There are no excuses. We didn't get it right. I feel sorry for the fans in New Zealand but we feel twice as bad."

Mitchell insisted he was not about to quit, saying: "I love coaching. There's no hint of me handing in my resignation.

"That's up to my employers and the person they want to take New Zealand rugby forward in 2004.

"I'm accountable for this team and that performance."

Mitchell also dismissed suggestions that his team were "chokers" after another World Cup semi-final failure.

Four years ago, the All Blacks capitulated in the face of a ferocious French comeback. In 1991, they were undone by Australia and the magic of David Campese.

"We didn't choke at all," said Mitchell. "That's just a bit of a buzz-word that goes around.

"We just got beaten by the better team. They won the inches and were forceful in the breakdown.

"I'm very disappointed but the effort we put in was huge. Things didn't go for us, but these things can happen in a career and we've got to get over it.

It's pretty heartbreaking
Captain Reuben Thorne
"We tried to come back but our execution of skill in the carry and the tackle was not good.

"A lot of slow ball ends up being no ball. We were stopped from playing and you've got to give Australia credit for that."

New Zealand now face a third-place play-off match on Thursday, when they will be without scrum-half Justin Marshall and prop Kees Meeuws.

Marshall damaged his rib cartilage early in the second half, when Meeuws also sustained a calf injury.

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