Beaten Australia coach Eddie Jones hailed England as the best team in the world "by a minute" after Jonny Wilkinson's extra-time drop-goal settled the World Cup final.
Although disappointed, Jones put on a brave face after the match, which saw the Wallabies fight back from 14-5 down at half-time to force extra time.
"They were outstanding. They are the best team in the world - by one minute," he said with an ironic smile after Wilkinson's drop-goal in the final minute finally separated the sides.
"I think they are an outstanding team. They play to their strengths. They have got a very good forward pack, some good, hard running backs and should be lauded as the best team in the world."
Jones also complimented England's backroom staff but praised Australia for pushing their northern hemisphere opponents to the limit.
"They are extremely well coached, extremely well prepared and have got a huge amount of talent within their squad," he said.
"They had to play well. We certainly put them under the pump and in the end we just weren't quite up to it. We are shattered."
Having confounded the critics by reaching the World Cup final, Jones' Australia have been riding an unprecedented wave of support all week.
But in the end, England managed to edge them in the race to victory.
Jones added: "You slug it out for 100 minutes and you get beaten in the 99th - I think that would qualify as a photo finish.
"We gave ourselves the best opportunity to win the World Cup. We came up just short but we put ourselves in the best position."
Jones was full of praise for inside centre Elton Flatley who landed two high-pressure kicks - one to force
extra-time and the other to level the scores after 97 minutes.
"Flats was terrific," said Jones. "He has had a very good World Cup. He kicked big goals, kicked consistently well. He is a very good young player.
"His best footie is ahead of him and, if he sticks at it he will be a very, very good player in the next couple of years."