Close-run losses will not cut it for England in their home World Cup this time next year, so it was a distraught captain Chris Robshaw who knocked on with the last piece of possession as his team strained in vain to rein in a ruthless New Zealand.
England’s supporters raged at a series of marginal decisions from Welsh referee Nigel Owens that helped the All Blacks gain a foothold in the match, and go on to a fifth consecutive win in this fixture. England led 14-11 at the break, but they made error upon error and suffered a long, slow black death in the second half.
Robshaw’s men mounted a late stand on the All Black goal-line, with the skipper arguably making the wrong call as he chose to scrummage from penalties as the seconds ticked away and New Zealand led 24-14. A penalty try converted by replacement fly-half George Ford raised hopes of a different result but an exhausted Robshaw fumbled a pass, and the final whistle went.
“We felt we had control of the second half bar the last couple of minutes,” said Robshaw’s opposite number Richie McCaw, who marked his 135th cap by scoring the try that put his team ahead five minutes into the second half, and they hardly looked back, keeping England out even while visiting hooker Dane Coles went to the sin bin for kicking Danny Care. It was not in the same league of violence as Jamie Joseph’s notorious stamp on Kyran Bracken in the 1993 match here. But it enraged the Twickenham crowd, who felt New Zealand got the rub from Owens, as if the world’s number one ranked team need any extra help.
England 21 New Zealand 24 player ratings
England 21 New Zealand 24 player ratings
1/32 Mike Brown - 7
Mike Brown – At his reliable best, but lacked a cutting edge with the ball in hand that we’ve come to expect. Solid would be an appropriate word
2/32 Semesa Rokodugani - 5
Non-existent with the ball given England didn’t know how to get him into the game. Useful in defence, but replaced after 62 minutes on his debut
3/32 Brad Barritt
He’s definitely not a 13, and it showed as he lacked the imagination and creativity they desperately needed
4/32 Kyle Eastmond – 6
Gave away three needless penalties in the first half but coped well thereafter. A tough ask to mark Williams, but manned up to the task
5/32 Jonny May – 8
Scored an unforgettable 50m try to light up Twickenham. His best performance yet of a very young and promising career
6/32 Owen Farrell – 6
His decision making was strong and kicking for goal as reliable as ever. Tactical kicking still needs perfecting though and it puts England under pressure
7/32 Danny Care – 6
Not at his sniping best but came to life when England were on the front-foot. Replaced by Youngs with 20 minutes to go to show he wasn’t firing on all cylinders
8/32 Joe Marler – 6
His scrummaging was good and tried to impose on the All Blacks’ pack when he carried, but Lancaster will still want more from the Harlequins captain
9/32 Dylan Hartley – 6
A constant nuisance, although the penalty for a high tackle on Cruden was slightly harsh. Lucky that he wasn’t caught by Coles’ kick. Lineout ball was of the highest calibre
10/32 David Wilson – 7
He’s performing admirably in the long-term absence of Dan Cole, and he can be happy with his performance, having scrummed well. Replaced by Brookes late on
11/32 Dave Attwood – 8
One of England’s standout players, he was strong in stealing New Zealand ball at the line-out and ran for good yards. Fatherhood appears to suit him
12/32 Courtney Lawes - 5
Lasted just 20 minutes after suffering a concussion, but his first-minute hit on Sonny Bill Williams set the tone
13/32 Tom Wood – 7
His mud-stained, blood-splattered shirt told the story, and that was only after 30 minutes. Mammoth work-rate at the breakdown, but New Zealand just squeezed him out of the game
14/32 Chris Robshaw – 6
His decision making will come into question once again as he went for scrums at the death with time against England. Looked out of gas by the end, but you can’t question his commitment
15/32 Billy Vunipola – 7
Ran hard for 53 minutes but is yet to put in a performance like that against the All Blacks two years ago. Took a heavy hit just before he was replaced
Rob Webber – Good impact in late push. 6 Matt Mullan – Picked up where Marler left off in the scrum. 6 Kieran Brookes – Big shove late on helped earn penalty try.6 George Kruis – Missed tackle led to McCaw try, but will learn. 5 Ben Morgan – Tried to carry England forward, to little avail. 6 Ben Youngs – Thrown on behind a pack going backwards. 5 George Ford – Try-saving tackle on Williams was impressive. 7 Anthony Watson – Little chance to impress on debut. 6
17/32 Israel Dagg – 4
Shaky again after his last outing against England, poor pass nearly robbed McCaw of second-half try
18/32 Ben Smith – 7
On another day he could have had two tries. As it was, a constant thorn in England’s side and hugely talented on the ground and in the air
19/32 Conrad Smith – 6
Showed his age for the first time as May burned him on the outside for opening try. Had an unusually quiet game, though is handling was as beautiful as ever
20/32 Sonny Bill Williams – 7
Enjoyed two barrelling runs, and his fist-minute one-handed offload in his own 22 summed up his desire to entertain. Nearly scored had it not been for Ford
21/32 Julian Savea – 6
Nailed Rokoduguni to welcome him to international rugby and charged over Barritt as if he wasn’t there. Got a heavy hit back from his opposite wing, and at last England managed to stop him from scoring
22/32 Aaron Cruden – 6
First-half try should have been chalked off as he grounded the ball short of the line, and his kicking was wayward in tricky conditions. Brought off after 60 minutes
23/32 Aaron Smith – 7
Wood and Vunipola kept him honest, but linked up well when All Blacks were on the attack
24/32 Wyatt Crockett – 7
Enjoyed his battle with Wilson with both enjoying success. Brought off for Ben Franks when the job was done
25/32 Dane Coles – 6
Correctly sin-binned for lashing out at Hartley only to kick Care in error. Has shown previous to let his aggression get the better of him, and must cut it out – even if he is being pulled to ground by the opposition
26/32 Owen Franks – 8
Has become a crucial player for the All Blacks and gives them a solid platform to attack from in the forwards. Second-half break set-up McCaw’s try
27/32 Sam Whitelock – 6
Nearly managed to poach himself a try, and looked bemused when it wasn’t awarded. Has bags of talent in so many areas, although he’ll be disappointed with the line-out disruption
28/32 Brodie Retallick – 7
Brought off at half-time with a shoulder injury, and will be a big miss if he misses the rest of the tour
29/32 Jerome Kaino – 7
Barrelling run in the first half produced Cruden’s try and his physicality in defence borders on the scary. Sacrificed for Mealamu when Coles was sin-binned
30/32 Richie McCaw – 9
Mr All Black was at his best as he constantly turned over English ball. Deserved his try which he did well to catch, and looked like a man who knew he’d always win come the final whistle
31/32 Kieran Read – 7
England did their best to keep him quiet but he continuously popped up lurking around the dangerous Savea
Kevin Mealamu – Brought his experience to help All Blacks cope with 14-men. 6 Ben Franks – Didn’t cope with the fresh England front-row come the end of the match. 5 Charlie Faumuina – Spotted the smallest of gaps that a prop could fit through to score. 7 Patrick Tuipulotu – Introduced at half-time and put in some hefty tackles. 7 Liam Messam – Wasn’t given long due to the sin-bin. 6 T J Perenara – Didn’t show anything to suggest he’ll usurp Smith anytime soon. 5 Beauden Barrett – Kicking was poor but the weather played a big part. 5 Ryan Crotty – All Blacks didn’t enjoy any possession when he came on. 5
It hurt all the more to lose considering England had made a wondrous start with a try in three minutes from an unpromising position. Semesa Rokoduguni’s first touch of the ball on his England debut brought the Fijian-born soldier a full metal jacket of a tackle from Julian Savea, the New Zealand try machine who had scored eight tries in his four previous tilts at the English.
But the home team held on to the ball and recycled it from right to left via visionary long passes from Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt out to Rokodugini’s fellow wing Jonny May. From the halfway line May’s brilliant sprint skinned Conrad Smith and carrying him down the touchline to burn off Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden. A great start, but when another England chance to score went begging, still in the opening 10 minutes, in the face of hard New Zealand defence in the ‘red zone’, it set the alarm bells clanging.
Sure enough, the remainder of the points in the first half were harder won, and fortune favoured the All Blacks as two of their three scores were hugely debateable. There were three penalties and a missed dropped goal by England’s fly-half Owen Farrell.
But New Zealand came out the right side of two borderline calls by the officials. They equalised May’s early effort as Courtney Lawes missed a tackle on Jerome Kaino, and Cruden lunged through Robshaw’s tackle. There was a big doubt over whether Cruden made the line but Owens spurned any video review. Then, for the first of Cruden’s two penalties before the break, England’s hooker Dylan Hartley was pulled up by touch judge Dudley Phillips for a late tackle on the All Black No.10. Hartley probably paid for his lumbering approach that hinted at some malice aforethought.
England lost Lawes with a golf-ball sized lump on the temple after a collision with Sam Whitelock, and brought on a second debutant in the Saracens second row, George Kruis. The Bath wing Anthony Watson made it three new boys in all, later on. With 11 absentees including seven British Lions at start of play, it all tested England’s depth of resources. They had only five starters from the famous win over the All Blacks here two autumns ago; New Zealand had nine, not to mention a daunting 13 wins in 14 meetings with England since 2003, and 42 wins and two draws in the last 46 matches overall.
So maybe they should not feel too badly at gradually conceding the initiative as time wore on and heavy rain lashed down. McCaw finished Dagg’s pass after Kruis misjudged a defensive rush, allowing Kieran Read valuable space. Whitelock almost scored, but was judged to have knocked on as England fretted on their own line. It became a theme as New Zealand pressure forced the hosts back, and made life horribly uncomfortable for Care and Mike Brown. For all the promise of Kyle Eastmond in an unfamiliar midfield, and Robshaw’s workaholic contribution, England could find no momentum.
Bath's Dave Attwood carried strongly, but no one outshone the immense contribution all around the field by Whitelock, including a charge down that embarrassed Eastmond.
Coles’s yellow card for lashing out as he was held by Hartley was little respite. Beauden Barrett, on for Cruden, missed a simple penalty on 63 minutes but made amends two minutes later when a scrambling tackle on Sonny Bill Williams by Ford – now forming with Farrell what many see as England’s optimal 10-12 combination – only led to an offside penalty. With 71 minutes gone, New Zealand went through a blistering 21 phases of quality continuity and handling before prop Charlie Faumuina flopped over the line. Barrett missed the conversion in the wet but the 10-point lead proved to be enough.
England: M Brown; S Rokoduguni (A Watson 62), B Barritt, K Eastmond (G Ford 65), J May; O Farrell, D Care (B Youngs 62); J Marler (M Mullan 55), D Hartley (R Webber 74), D Wilson (K Brookes 74), D Attwood, C Lawes (G Kruis 23), T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Vunipola (B Morgan 53).
New Zealand: I Dagg; B Smith, C Smith (R Crotty 48), SB Williams, J Savea; A Cruden (B Barrett, 60), A Smith (TJ Perenara 67); W Crockett (B Franks 60), D Coles (K Mealamu 67), O Franks (C Faumuina 48), B Retallick (P Tuipulotu 41), S Whitelock, J Kaino (Mealamu 61-67, L Messam 67), R McCaw (capt), K Read.
Referee: N Owens (Wales).Reuse content