England 22 New Zealand 30 match report: Gallant England seen off by Julian Savea’s killer blow

Hosts fought back from a 14 point deficit to lead but wing Savea bagged two tries to earn gruelling victory

New Zealand now have only Ireland to beat in Dublin next Sunday to go to complete a clean sweep of the calendar year after England were left splattered as the All Blacks’ 13th roadkill of 2013. The crying shame for the home team was not just that they were unable to repeat their victory of last year over the planet’s No 1 ranked Test team, but that an impressively coherent game-plan unravelled in achingly obvious fashion when the line-out fell apart during the second half.

Richie McCaw’s men moved their stunningly dominant record on to just that one loss to England in 34 Tests since August 2011 – and it was an inadvertent bang against the mighty McCaw’s hip suffered by Dylan Hartley that heralded England’s demise after they had fought back from a terrible opening. Hartley staggered off in the 51st minute and his replacement Tom Youngs had three line-out throws out of four pilfered by the ravenous All Blacks.

The one that England did catch safely – the third, chucked as a supposedly safe option to the front of a shortened line – led to trouble anyway as the ball was dropped in the maul, and New Zealand, with a sweeping move left to right and back again, made a second try of the match for their wing Julian Savea. It had New Zealand 27-22 up after 63 minutes so there was time to respond, but Youngs’s throwing woes, after England had enjoyed Fort Knox-safety in that facet earlier on, knocked the stuffing out of them.

In the absence of the wrecking-ball hero of the 2012 fixture, Manu Tuilagi, England found themselves 17-3 down with just 16 minutes gone – a second-minute try to Savea from a sumptuous bit of business by Kieran Read to fox Chris Ashton following a line-out near the  England goal-line, then one for the No 8 himself when the prop Owen Franks was launched through a gap and England’s back-three defence got in a muddle – the obvious thought was, ho hum, the game’s up.

A similar emotional pall descended when New Zealand fought back to 15-14 down with two quick third-quarter tries a year ago. Yesterday the gut feeling turned out to be spot on but, blimey, what an entertaining – and, more importantly for the future prospects of a still young team – intelligent struggle England made of it. By half-time they had closed to within four points, doing so by backing themselves to score with penalties to touch and clever thought at close quarters in addition to the more overt talent of the brawny handling of Billy Vunipola (to whom New Zealand kicked very restart, for no apparently good reason).

Farrell’s kicks around the mid-point of the half gave England line-outs either side of a scrum penalty, eventually leading to Vunipola being drived over by his pack. It appeared on replays that the home No 8 had slid over the goal-line to score but the television match official declared it “inconclusive”. If injustice raged in the English belly it was channelled intelligently. Not necessarily at the resulting scrum, which broke apart scrappily and rather fortunately into a second try in consecutive Tests for Joe Launchbury, after Read missed the ball and Tom Wood toed it towards the line.

Soon afterwards when Read – with his team on a warning from the referee Craig Joubert for persistent infringement – went very marginally in at the side of a ruck, an English tackler made sure Joubert blew up and sent Read to the sin-bin. Farrell’s penalty added to his conversion of Launchbury’s try came either side of a nerveless 40-metre penalty by Aaron Cruden, on sadly early from a neutral view point, as the great Dan Carter on his 100th Test appearance had hobbled off. Carter had converted both New Zealand tries and kicked a penalty; Farrell had a penalty in in the seventh minute and added another three minutes before the interval when England took a scrum against the head – by driving upwards, they drew attention to the discomfort of the All Blacks who had Ma’a Nonu as an emergency flanker.

And what of McCaw? The man is a machine, we all know, and he just kept motoring, plastering poor Hartley with one run and fighting his usual turf war after the tackle.

The magnificent Wood and Mike Brown tackled urgently and brilliantly; Ashton looked as nervous in defence as he had been in the previous fortnight’s wins over Australia and Argentina but he was entitled to moan loudly at the lack of a yellow card when the prop Wyatt Crockett blocked him off chasing a kick ahead. A missed penalty by Cruden and two more successes for Farrell after 52 and 59 minutes had England 22-20 up. But New Zealand make an art form out of timely tries and Savea’s second, converted by Cruden, was certainly one of those.

Ashton looked nervous in defence Ashton looked nervous in defence  

In the remaining minutes England, with their captain Chris Robshaw peering through one eye almost closed like a boxer’s, were attacking from too deep. Yes, they missed some absent friends – the injured props Mako Vunipola and Alex Corbisiero, and the flanker Tom Croft, would have had power to add – but they must not resort to such excuses.

Billy Twelvetrees carried the fight and looks a midfielder to build a back division around. The feisty Farrell is improving season by season. As Cruden finished the All Blacks’ job with a 42-metre penalty on 71 minutes there was a realisation that one improving team had brought something like the best out of the other. Winning, occasionally, isn’t everything.

Line-ups:

England: M Brown; C Ashton, J Tomkins (A Goode 77), B Twelvetrees, B Foden; O Farrell (T Flood 68), L Dickson (B Youngs 65); J Marler (M Mullan 77), D Hartley (T Youngs 51), D Cole (D Wilson 77), J Launchbury (G Parling 47), C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Vunipola (B Morgan 58).

New Zealand: I Dagg; C Piutau (R Crotty 72), B Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; D Carter (A Cruden 26), A Smith (T Kerr-Barlow 72); T Woodcock (W Crockett 41), K Mealamu (D Coles 60), O Franks (C Faumuina 43), B Retallick (L Romano 65), S Whitelock, L Messam (S Luatua 65), R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Referee: C Joubert (South Africa)

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks