'We have got to get the balance right,' says Tindall

DEFEAT to South Africa may have left a sour taste in the mouth but Martin Johnson believes that when the dust settles England can look back on a month of considerable progression.

England are lamenting a loss to the world champions, yet it is that spellbinding 80 minutes against Australia 16 days ago for which the Autumn Internationals will be best remembered.

Two wins from four is England's best return under Johnson in three Novembers, leaving the team manager confident his side go into a World Cup year rejuvenated.

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"We're far better for getting through a Test series. It's a learning experience emotionally, controlling the ups and downs and dealing with the intensity for some of the guys and they have done it very well really.

"The team's going in the right direction and we can be a pretty good team but consistency is the key. Everyone in the autumn series, with the exception of the All Blacks, has been a bit up and down. Good Test teams go out and are difficult to beat every week."

Johnson refused to accept that England had been taught some harsh lessons by the Springboks, but acknowledged it could be an outcome that will strengthen his evolving team.

"Do you have to experience it to understand it? Maybe we do," he reasoned. "We beat Australia and everyone wants to call us the next best thing. But you play Test rugby in all forms. I don't like referring to it as lessons learnt – we knew what to expect (from South Africa).

"It's about the fundamentals of Test rugby. If you make the mistakes we did all over the field – dropping the ball, conceding penalties – then you invite pressure on yourself. When we got the ball in our hands we could create things and put them under pressure, but mistakes then invited pressure onto us."

England were guilty of neglecting a kicking game in favour of the running rugby that served them so well against the Wallabies. "We have got to get the balance right," said Otley-born centre Mike Tindall, one of this young squad's elder statesmen.

"Teams are expecting us to run the ball, that's when you've sometimes got to change it up and keep people guessing. Today we didn't quiet get that right.

"It wasn't so much naivete, more over-eagerness. This team just wants to play rugby, they want to go out there and show themselves in the best light they can, but sometimes Test match rugby isn't the best environment to do that in. It's about winning ugly and we didn't get to grips with that early enough."