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Hartley taking positives from narrow defeat to world champions

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

England could not have had a harder start to the Autumn Internationals, coming up against a full-strength All Blacks outfit who had been together for two months and had comfortably won the Rugby Championship before heading north for their end-of-year tour.

But England got off to a stunning start, scoring early through Jonny May and coming close to a second when Mike Brown agonisingly dropped a Kyle Eastmond pass with the line at his mercy.

The hosts also bookended the game with a late penalty try, but in between the world champions scored three tries and took control of the contest as heavy rain showers soaked the capacity crowd and players alike.

“We’re finishing games strongly, which is good,” Hartley told the EnglandRugby.com podcast. “There was a lesson for us to play for 80 minutes and to keep the intensity up. The way we started the game as well was a huge positive. One of the lessons we learned from the summer was that you can’t afford to have a slow start against the All Blacks.

“Our mauling game was strong, and our forwards game was pretty good. We stopped their maul and stopped their runners.

“The way we played will give us belief in what we’re doing. And we can’t dwell on it too long as we’ve got another huge test next week and come Saturday we know we’re going to have to be right up there.

“But we know we can compete with the world’s number ones, and that we can push them.”