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All Blacks defeat 'tough to take' - George

Jamie George
Jamie George took the reins as England captain from Owen Farrell before this year's Six Nations [Getty Images]

England have toppled the All Blacks in New Zealand just once since the turn of the 21st century. At the final whistle of their 16-15 defeat in Dunedin on Saturday, there was a sense of regret at what could have been.

Steve Borthwick's side threatened an upset through Immanuel Feyi-Waboso's try, only to be denied a first win in New Zealand since 2003 by two second-half Damian McKenzie penalties.

Marcus Smith impressed with ball in hand but missed three of his five kicks at goal in a disappointing performance from the tee.

"We're gutted, of course we are," England captain Jamie George told BBC Sport.

"Not many teams come here and do that to the All Blacks. It's a tough result to take.

"We definitely weren't at our best but the fundamentals of our game, what we talk about regardless of the bounce of the ball, is us being out here and showing character and I think we did that in spades.

"In the week they were talking about not knowing too many of our players - I think they'll know us now."

The problem for George and his talented young charges, perhaps, is what comes next.

The sides will conclude their two-match series next Saturday at Eden Park, a venue where the hosts have reigned supreme against all foes for 30 years.

"We will make it about the rugby, that's what it is always going to be about," added George.

"There's so much to pick out from this game, learnings, disappointment and encouragement.

"What's happened in the past has happened in the past. We are here to win.

"We know that Eden Park is a tough place to play but we have won some big games recently and this would be a very special win in all of our careers."

All Blacks edge 'arm wrestle'

New All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson let out a big sigh of relief at full-time as his tenure began with a narrow victory.

England's blitz defence had charged at his side all night.

New Zealand fans will be accustomed to seeing their side play with attacking fluency, but England's line speed restricted them space to execute their skills.

It led to a change of tactics in the second half.

The hosts kept the ball at close quarters and tried to overpower their visitors, who were up to the challenge.

George Martin and Chandler Cunningham-South both dominated the collision with new All Blacks skipper Scott Barrett in a display of defiance, and last year's World Cup finalists were restricted to just 16 points at home.

"A decent welcome to Test rugby," Robertson told BBC Sport.

"From the kick-off in the second half the arm wrestle started and they wouldn't let us out of it.

"I'm relieved rather than ecstatic. I will sleep well tonight knowing we got the result but also wake up early knowing we've got some work to do.

"Man, they are a good team and they have played some good footy this year and they were a moment away [from winning]."

England are playing their best rugby of the Borthwick era, in a year in which they have denied Ireland back-to-back Grand Slams.

"You don't often see New Zealand play a game like that and it became a proper arm wrestle," Borthwick, who was a member of the England squad the last time they won in New Zealand, told BBC Sport.

"I'm proud of all the players. We want to keep getting better and improve.

"Today's another step but let's be clear, we're disappointed with the loss.

"Ultimately there were opportunities we didn't take but when you look at this England team, I'm excited for the future."