The All Blacks win over England was another example of an experienced side knowing how to apply the blowtorch at the right time.
Despite distractions that might have upset a less-experienced side, New Zealand All Blacks retain focus and purpose to secure a deserved win…
Via allblacks.com England led 14-11 at half-time, courtesy of a superb try by wing Jonny May in the third minute which caught the All Blacks napping in the way he outdid centre Conrad Smith and fullback Israel Dagg. That gave the home team a degree of confidence which saw them hold onto position and force New Zealand into a demanding defensive role involving plenty of tackling.
However, there was never a hint of panic from the All Blacks and after a powerful run at the line by one of the key men on the night, flanker Jerome Kaino, which set up a goal-line ruck produced quick ball for first five-eighths Aaron Cruden to ground the ball on the chalk in the 12th minute to score. First five-eighths Owen Farrell landed three penalty goals to take England to 14 points, but after the turnaround, the All Blacks showed their experience, and skill, in totally dominating the second half.
Skipper Richie McCaw, a deserving man of the match, capped a superb piece of continuity play by scoring in the 45th minute.
As the heavens opened and rain swamped the players, New Zealand were hot on attack when hooker Dane Coles was sin-binned for lashing out with his foot at home hooker Dylan Hartley who had been pulling his jersey. However, the All Blacks merely absorbed Coles’ loss by turning on the power and in a marvellous 24-stage sequence held the ball close while driving at the England line and it was replacement prop Charlie Faumuina who picked up the ball after a strong surge at the line by replacement centre Ryan Crotty. Pouring through the middle of the breakdown, Faumuina grounded the ball over the line.
Then, in one of several worrying moments during the game, referee Nigel Owens reacted to crowd noise after a television replay by asking for the TMO to adjudicate on the try when Beauden Barrett, the replacement first five-eighths was lining up the conversion attempt.
There was never any doubt Faumuina had scored, the line that television coverage brought into play for the crowd reaction was on an advertisement in the in-goal area. Another interesting call saw lock Sam Whitelock denied a try when the ball was on the goal-line on England’s side of a ruck. Whitelock rushed in and touched the ball only for the try to be disallowed.
Again, there was a decision of interest after a stunning break by second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams, who had an outstanding return to the international stage, which took play into the England goal-mouth. An England player was ruled off-side in the play from which Barrett goaled but it could have been an easy yellow card choice.
Then in the last minute, England were awarded a penalty try from a scrum infringement in front of the All Blacks’ posts which inflated their proximity to the defending world champions in the final consideration.
But for all the distractions that might have upset a less-experienced side, New Zealand retained their focus and purpose to secure a deserved win, albeit without achieving the sort of dominance they would have wanted in both their line-out and scrum and with their goal-kicking.
The All Blacks win over England was another example of an experienced side knowing how to apply the blowtorch at the right time. England fans were crushed as New Zealand’s second half power display set up the All Blacks win over England 24-21 at Twickenham as they both retained the Hillary Shield and showed their Rugby World Cup intentions.
Scorers: England 21 (Jonny May try; penalty try; Owen Farrell 3 pen; George Ford con) New Zealand 24 (Aaron Cruden, Richie McCaw, Charlie Faumuina tries; Cruden 2 pen; Beauden Barrett pen). HT: 14-11