England will go into next year’s Rugby World Cup having lost five times to New Zealand, a massive psychological hurdle to have to clear in the biggest tournament in the sport.
England were allowed to get within touching distance thanks to a late penalty try but in truth, it was the All Blacks who were the better team thanks to their second half stranglehold that kept the home side stuck in their own half.
If England want to win the World Cup they have to find a far better cutting edge and that was removed by the injuries that ruled out men like Manu Tuilagi and Luther Burrell.
England offered nothing in mid-field and will need to find something different to take on South Africa next Saturday. Owen Farrell’s place is under pressure from George Ford as he did not provide the kicking that was needed to pin the All Blacks into their half , particularly during the second period. Three tries to two was the All Blacks reward for a highly professional performance and now they have five wins in just 12 months over the Cup hosts.
England have to repeat the physical commitment that caused the All Blacks problems because the Springboks are determined to win any arm wrestling contest. The way New Zealand scored their final try with pick and go is a template for the Springboks to beat this England pack.
The influence of referee Nigel Owens was felt throughout and he pinged the visitors for supporting themselves with their hands while lying above the ball carrier insisting this was not acceptable. As they walked off the pitch at the break, Richie McCaw tried to clarify the ruling as it was hurting his side and contributed to their 14-11 half time deficit.
Owens is by some way the best referee operating at test level but that refusal to go upstairs to the video ref for the Aaron Cruden try was the act of a man who has massive self belief and while it was encouraging to see an official back his own judgement, with so many replays it has to be a confident call. The doubt around the Cruden score only served to support those who want a review after every try where there could be doubt.
The crowd was certainly in that camp and reacted with boos as the replay clearly showed the ball being loosened from Cruden’s grasp to the extent that a review would have been justified. There was video confirmation of the third try Charlie Faumiunina which followed Richie McCaw’s touch down. England’s points came from Farrell’s boot and a great run by Johnny May but nothing followed that effort.
Owens likes to keep the game going and captains are happy to bend his ear although England skipper Chris Robshaw was told, at one point, to go back having said “enough” in the opinion of the Welsh referee. It is something Robshaw needs to be careful with going into the South Africa game as England need to work closely with the referee not annoy him.
The match had been preceded by an emotional playing of the Last Post by a lone bugler and Twickenham is becoming adept at pitching this kind of occasion just right. However, there is a fine line that the organisers tend to cross when it comes to pre-arranged musical interludes to try and stir a crowd that is quite capable of lifting the roof with their support without prompting.Reuse content