Six Nations 2014: England must improve, says Stuart Lancaster

Six Nations 2014: France 26-24 England - reaction

England must improve if they are to make a serious impact during this year's Six Nations, according to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Lancaster's men lost 26-24 in France on Saturday, despite clawing back a 13-point deficit to take a 24-19 lead.

They must win in Scotland next week to retain realistic hopes of winning their first Six Nations title since 2011.

"The positives outweigh the negatives, but we know we must improve to win the big games," said Lancaster.

Highlights: France 26-24 England

Replacement Gael Fickou struck with a late try that Maxime Machenaud converted to snatch victory for France.

But Lancaster was proud of the way his side fought back from a 16-8 interval deficit.

Mike Brown's first Test try and another from debutant Luther Burrell came amid 18 unanswered points as early French dominance gave way to English ascendancy deep into the second half.

"At the start we put ourselves into a bit of a hole," Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I thought the boys showed incredible character, resilience and a lot of skill to put ourselves in a position to win it.

"But a bit of French flair at the end and they got the win. We're very disappointed to lose like that."

Wing Jack Nowell, 20, joined centre Burrell, 26, in making his England debut, while 23-year-old Jonny May won his second cap on the left wing in an inexperienced backline.

And Lancaster was impressed with his youngsters.

"It was a good place to come. I thought our young players learned a lot," he said. "I'm very proud of them."

France finished bottom of the table last year and head coach Philippe Saint-Andre savoured a sweet victory for the 2010 winners.

"There's a lot of work to do still," said the former Gloucester and Sale coach.

"But what we'll have to remember is the victory, the smiles on the players' faces after the game.

"England made it very difficult for us from 35 to 70 minutes. I want to play tribute to my young team. It's a great sign for the season."

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