Stuart Lancaster's England side were hailed as potential World Cup winners after recording an historic 38-21 victory against New Zealand.
Three tries in eight second-half minutes from Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi saw England inflict their biggest-ever win against the All Blacks in an absorbing Test match.
And after watching his side's 20-match unbeaten run demolished New Zealand coach Steve Hansen gave Lancaster's young side a ringing endorsement.
Hansen said: "There were two teams capable of winning the World Cup out there.
"No excuses, we got beaten by the better side. This is a good England side. You should get behind them and back them a bit. They have shown what they can do and if you back them it will make them even more dangerous.
"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, who had lost narrowly to Australia and South Africa in the past two weeks, took a 15-0 lead at half-time, courtesy of four penalties and a drop goal by fly-half Owen Farrell
And while New Zealand hit back with two tries from Julian Savea and Kieran Read to get within a point at 15-14 England regrouped in spectacular fashion to take the game away from the world champions, who gave some respectability to the scoreline with a late second try from Savea.
Lancaster said: "The performance was exactly what we had hoped for. I'm 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.
"To build a 15-point lead was very pleasing. The All Blacks came back strong but our energy and our fight for the shirt was outstanding. That's what got us across the line.
"Our defence was outstanding. We forced the All Blacks into errors and not many sides do that."
The victory was a triumph for captain Chris Robshaw, who had been heavily criticised for poor decision-making against Australia and South Africa. Robshaw gathered his players in a huddle at the end and Lancaster explained the significance.
"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 per cent," 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.
"The win gives the players belief in the direction we are going and the rugby public a sense that this journey is the right one.
"We want to win here and now but we want to build a team for the future and we have lads like Joe Launchbury and Jon Joseph and Owen Farrell and Freddie (Burns) who are 21, 22 and 23 years old.
"They should be playing for England for years and we should be sat here in 10 years time and still have the same group of lads with 800 caps in our starting XV."
To their credit New Zealand did not blame the sickness bug which had laid low many of their team in midweek.
When asked if it had a bearing, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said: "No, I don't think so. 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 defence coach Andy Farrell saluted the work of Lancaster and his relationship with his players.
Farrell said: "This young group has taken a lot of pressure. They have turned that pressure into a performance everybody in the country can be proud of.
"Stuart has always had the belief in the players and that has shone for the last five weeks. The belief these players have from Stuart as their head guy showed up there today on the pitch. He has led this team magnificently."
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree added: "From the first minute to the last minute I thought they had their foot on the throat. I'm very proud of them. A lot of them have single figures in caps but you would not have thought that."
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