Dylan Hartley admits New Zealand have landed a telling psychological blow in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup by completing a 3-0 series whitewash over England.
Stuart Lancaster’s men slumped to a 36-13 defeat at the Waikato Stadium in what was comfortably their worst performance of the tour.
The rivals collide again at Twickenham in the opening match of the autumn series and Hartley fears World Cup favourites New Zealand have gained a crucial edge over the hosts.
“There was more to this series than the results, there was also that psychological battle that we’d have liked to have won,” Hartley said.
Meanwhile, Warren Gatland believes Wales can build with confidence towards the World Cup despite their latest agonising defeat to a southern hemisphere giant. Wales had been on course for a first win over South Africa on Springbok soil when they led 30-24 in the dying moments of the second Test in Nelspruit. But their hopes were dashed when an illegal challenge by Scarlets full-back Liam Williams on Boks wing Cornal Hendricks resulted in a penalty try, which Morne Steyn converted to give the home side a 31-30 victory and a 2-0 Test series success.
Scotland snatched a 21-19 victory over Argentina in their Test match in Cordoba. A penalty in the closing stages from Duncan Weir secured victory for Vern Cotter’s young team. However, Argentina spurned a late drop goal attempt as they sought to deny the tourists a morale-boosting success ahead of next Saturday’s match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
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