LONDON (REUTERS) - For all England's honest endeavour, captain Chris Robshaw believes his side must learn how to kill teams off ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup after letting world champions New Zealand off the hook at Twickenham.
With the World Cup in England 10 months away, the hosts were looking to mark their territory against New Zealand on Saturday and they had the world champions on the back foot in the opening stages.
Winger Jonny May scored a sensational try to give England a 14-11 half-time lead, but the All Blacks were rejuvenated after the break and tries from captain Richie McCaw and replacement Charlie Faumuina sealed a 24-21 victory.
Having given their all to the cause, the rain-soaked England players trudged off the sodden Twickenham turf cursing their luck after suffering their fifth successive defeat by New Zealand.
"We are getting there, especially back at home," Robshaw told reporters. "They were on the ropes and we need to remember that.
"We had the best team in the world on the ropes but we need to learn how to deliver the killer blow and kill teams off and produce that second-half performance.
"We wanted to be the pace-setters and impose ourselves on them because they were coming to our place and we needed to put them on the back foot.
"It's extremely frustrating to come so close to beating them but just not getting across the line. We wanted the win but didn't get it.
Next up for England are South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, before rounding off the November internationals against Samoa and Australia.
Robshaw remains confident that England will bounce back quickly.
"We'd much rather have started with a win but this will set us up nicely for South Africa," the flanker said. "That's going to be another massive physical test for the guys but we will be ready for them.
"It's important to get this result out of our system quickly and get back on the training ground to prepare for the Springboks."