London – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said England, as well as his own reigning champions, could win the 2015 World Cup after seeing Stuart Lancaster's men inflict a record-breaking 38-21 defeat on the All Blacks.
Three tries in eight second half minutes from backs Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi at Twickenham on Saturday saw England, who had been 15-0 up only for New Zealand to close to 15-14, pull away to their biggest winning margin over the All Blacks, surpassing a 13-0 triumph in 1936.
England's victory, which ended New Zealand's 20-match unbeaten run, was all the more remarkable as it came after defeats in the previous two weeks by Australia (20-14) and South Africa (16-15).
“There were two teams capable of winning the World Cup out there,” said Hansen after New Zealand's first loss to England since 2003.
“No excuses, we got beaten by the better side. This is a good England side.”
“They thoroughly deserved their victory and should be proud of what they have achieved with magnificent football. They took the game to us from the get-go, full credit to them.”
England were 15-0 up early in the second half following four penalties and a drop-goal by 21-year-old fly-half Owen Farrell.
But New Zealand then closed to within a point thanks to two tries in three minutes from wing Julian Savea and No 8 Kieran Read.
However, rather than be the cue for an All Blacks fightback, England responded with their try treble and by the time Savea crossed the hosts' line for a second time, five minutes from the finish, the match had been decided.
“The performance was exactly what we had hoped for,” said England coach Lancaster. “I am chuffed for the players.
“When the tough times came we stayed together. That team belief, with a young England side, definitely augurs well for the future.”
“At 15-14 we came back with three tries of our own. We've tried to instil a no-fear mentality in the players and to make them have the courage of their convictions.
“We forced the All Blacks into errors and not many sides do that,” he added.
England skipper Chris Robshaw, criticised for poor decision-making against the Wallabies and the Springboks, gathered his team together in a huddle after the final whistle as home fans in a capacity crowd of more than 81,000 celebrated only England's seventh win over the All Blacks.
Lancaster said the purpose was to remind the team to maintain Saturday's standard come their next international Ä a Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 2.
“Chris was saying that when we turn up for the Six Nations we must make sure we are at this level and not drop back 10 percent,” said Lancaster.
“It is brilliant to get this result but we are on a long-term plan and we have to make sure we back up the performance.
“We didn't quite get across the line with Australia and South Africa but to get across the line with New Zealand with a young team with 206 caps in the starting XV is an unbelievable achievement.”
New Zealand refused to blame the sickness bug which swept through their squad in midweek for the shock loss, with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw insisting: “If we had fallen away at the end you might have said that, but we felt fine in that department.
“We just struggled to get into the game. We were on the back foot and put under pressure. Even when we got back in the game they didn't panic. I was impressed with the way they played.”
England backs coach Andy Farrell said Lancaster, promoted from his post in charge of England's reserve Saxons following the senior team's embarrassing World Cup exit in New Zealand last year, deserved his share of the credit for a memorable performance.
“Stuart has always had the belief in the players and that has shone for the last five weeks,” Farrell, the father of Owen, said.
“The belief these players have from Stuart as their head guy showed up there today on the pitch. He has led this team magnificently.” – Sapa-AFP