rfu.com and James Mortimer 22.Jun.2013Getty Images
The Exeter Chiefs hooker made a phenomenal 25 tackles as the Baby Blacks were overturned 33-21 in Vannes – tries from Matt Hankin, Anthony Watson and Tom Smallbone seeing Nick Walshe’s charges through an enthralling encounter.
And shortly after the final whistle sealed a first ever victory for England over the Kiwis at this level, 19 year-old Cowan-Dickie explained his delight at vanquishing the memories of an underwhelming eighth-place finish in the 2012 tournament.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said. “Just to beat New Zealand was one thing but to get to the JWC final as well was something else altogether.
“Obviously last year we didn’t do so well, so we spoke to the younger guys and said we’ve really got to do something this time round. We’ve come together and we’re working really hard for each other – to get to the final is class.”
After an assured, clinical performance in the opening 40 minutes saw them head into half-time 20-8 up, England needed to dig deep in the face of an impressive comeback from Ardie Savea’s men.
“It felt like we were defending most of the game, especially during the few minutes [after the break] when they scored their try,” Cowan-Dickie added. “They were on our five-metre line for a good while and it felt like it was never going to end, but to get the win was brilliant.
“Obviously we knew that England had never beaten New Zealand in the JWC so there was a bit of pressure on there.
“To see the haka was really good – the boys just got pumped from it because you see how much they want it. I guess it made our boys get a bit more up for it.”
Turning his attention to the final against Wales – who recorded a wonderful win over South Africa themselves thanks to fly half Sam Davies’ last-gasp touchline conversion– Cowan-Dickie suggested England’s 28-15 Six Nations win would have little bearing on proceedings.
“It is good to have won the last one – it was a tight game and very physical,” he said. “But seeing Wales in this JWC, they are a completely different side.
“They’ve played a lot better than they did in the Six Nations and they’re definitely going to bring a lot more against us in the final. We can’t go into the game thinking we’ll beat them just because we have before.