England captain Jason Robinson said his team contributed to their own downfall after their record 58-10 defeat against South Africa in Bloemfontein.
Ashton (left) and Robinson said England errors were partly to blame
"We went in at half-time bitterly disappointed, we gave them two tries and you can't make basic mistakes against South Africa," said Robinson.
"For the first 25 minutes of the second half we put up a good fight but they opened us up at the end.
"We showed character but we weren't good enough on the day."
South Africa eased into a 30-3 half-time lead with tries by Ashwin Willemse, Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers.
England battled hard in the second half and were rewarded with a well-worked try by James Simpson-Daniel, converted by Wilkinson.
However, tries by Schalk Burger, Francois Steyn, Habana, CJ van der Linde - all converted by Montgomery - saw the hosts complete the rout.
We weren't always going to get everything right in five days. We will try to get it right for the next one
South Africa coach Jake White
But Robinson insisted: "They (South Africa) didn't do anything I don't think we couldn't handle although the scoreline doesn't show that.
"Cut those mistakes out and I don't think there would be much in the first half. We know the errors we made and at this level you just can't do it."
Like Robinson, England coach Brian Ashton said the team had made life hard for themselves.
Ashton said: "It wasn't my worst nightmare. We knew it would be tough but we didn't help ourselves in the second half of the first half.
"We gifted two tries to them. Credit to the lads for the first 20 minutes of the second half and then we blew up.
"I'm not making excuses but there were three or four who shouldn't have been out there at the end but they had to stay on because there was no-one else to bring on.
"I'm bitterly disappointed and the players are bitterly disappointed. They can either sulk and feel sorry for ourselves all week or start again on Monday.
It was a fantastic win, but the World Cup is a long way away
"We just have the self-belief we can be more competitive next week. I'll pick the side up again and talk about what went on today."
Man-of-the-match Burger insisted the result would have little bearing on the sides' World Cup match-up in September.
"We've been on a losing streak against England over the past few years - the 53-3 loss at Twickenham put us back a bit," said Burger.
"So it was good to beat them. We did the basics, kept it simple and scored a couple of soft tries in the first half.
"All credit to England, they were very competitive after the break, but the crowd wanted a big score and it opened up towards the end.
"It was a fantastic win, but the World Cup is a long way away. It's no good playing great rugby now and not in the World Cup."
South Africa coach Jake White was pleased with his side's win, but not entirely satisfied with the overall display.
"It's the first time in a long time we could sit and relax and enjoy the last 20 minutes of a Test," said White.
"The biggest positive was the way we linked the backs and forwards in the last 20 minutes and the way we finished the game.
"To score 30 points in the first half of a Test match was really pleasing.
"We lost a bit of structure in the first half of the second half but we weren't always going to get everything right in five days. We will try to get it right for the next one."