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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 June 2007, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Ashton slams '50-minute' England
England regroup under their posts
England gather under their posts after conceding another try
England coach Brian Ashton said he was disappointed by the way his side had struggled in the final 30 minutes against South Africa in Pretoria.

The teams were level at 22-22 after 50 minutes, but five Springbok tries put an exhausted and depleted England to the sword in the latter stages.

"I expect international players to put their bodies on the line for the whole 80 minutes," said Ashton.

"You can't play for 50 minutes and expect to win against South Africa."

Ashton's side was well below full strength, with players from Wasps, Leicester and Bath left at home because of their appearance in European finals a week before the first Test.

England centre Andy Farrell
Farrell was forced to be a spectator in Pretoria

A stomach bug swept through the camp, robbing England of the likes of Andy Farrell and David Strettle, while injury forced Iain Balshaw, Jason Robinson and Andy Hazell out of action.

But Ashton refused to be swayed from his belief that England should have put up more of a fight.

"We showed we could play for 50 minutes but not 80. The energy levels dropped dramatically in the last 15 minutes and people fell off tackles that they made in the first half," he said.

"One or two players showed they're capable of competing at this level but overall I am disappointed, to be honest.

England captain Jonny Wilkinson
The scoreline in both Tests has been a bit harsh because we've given everything

England captain Jonny Wilkinson

"I did think at half-time that we'd dig in for the first 10 minutes and we didn't. We made silly mistakes and the game gradually slipped away.

"We let the Springboks build up a head of steam and when that happened, it was a one-horse race."

Meanwhile, England captain Jonny Wilkinson insisted the tour could ultimately prove to be a positive experience for his team-mates.

"We lost both these games because we weren't good enough," said Wilkinson, who came back from the 1998 "Tour of Hell" to help England win the World Cup in 2003.

"But if we take lessons on board, and gain that ruthless desire not to face this kind of scoreline again, this will be a very helpful tour."

"The scoreline in both Tests has been a bit harsh because we've given everything and it's just got away from us at the end.

"It's an issue of stamping your authority on the game. If you do that, it becomes a lot easier as you go along, but if you let the opposition do that time and time again, eventually it gets too much.

606: DEBATE
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"That's why the tries come at the end - tired bodies, and people half a yard out of position and half a second late."

Wilkinson said he would not be reading anything into the tour in terms of the two sides' meeting in the World Cup group stage in September.

"I ignore the mind games because I think it's all about the preparation leading up to the game," he said.

"When we get back, we've got guys who will be desperate to get back into the squad and give us a boost. The guys here have done an amazing job. Everyone gave everything, but it's been a tough tour."



SEE ALSO
White claims psychological edge
02 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 55-22 England
02 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa v England as it happened
02 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa v England photos
02 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 58-10 England
26 May 07 |  English


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