All Blacks show champion quality to edge out England

NEW ZEALAND STARTED the European leg of their November tour with a hard-fought 24-21 win over England at Twickenham.

In the end, the All Blacks’ greater rugby nous told as they recorded their fifth straight win over the Red Rose brigade following a 3-0 home series victory in June.

England kicked-off buoyed by the memory of their record 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham in 2012 and they gave a Test debut to Fiji-born wing Semesa Rokoduguni, a serving  soldier.

Brodie Retallick (left) is challenged by England’s Billy Vunipola. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

But their task  was not helped by the absence of seven injured British and Irish Lions — Dan Cole, Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Geoff Parling Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi, as well as lock Joe Launchbury and centre Luther Burrell.

New Zealand’s matchday 23 boasted more than double the number of caps than England’s squad, while All Blacks wing Julian Savea, with 29 tries in 30 Tests had scored more than England (20 tries) had managed between them.

Yet despite their relative lack of experience, it took England just four minutes to open the scoring in dramatic style.

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The ball was worked wide to left wing Jonny May, who promptly went round New Zealand centre Conrad Smith and then went past Israel Dagg, when it seemed the full-back had lined him up, before going in at the corner for his first international try. Owen Farrell then missed the difficult conversion.


England nearly had another try soon afterwards but fullback Mike Brown knocked on a pass from centre Kyle Eastmond just metres from the line.

It was a miss that was punished by New Zealand when they hit back with an equalising try of their own in the 14th minute following their first visit to England’s 22.

All Blacks wing Ben Smith beat May in an aerial challenge and the ball was then spun wide, with blindside flanker Jerome Kaino bursting between England captain Chris Robshaw and lock Courtney Lawes.

From a close-range ruck, referee Nigel Owens ruled fly-half Aaron Cruden had just done enough to touch the try-line.

Cruden couldn’t convert but the match was now all square at 5-5. Farrell then kicked two penalties to take England into an 11-5 lead.

England, in a typically bruising contest, saw Lawes leave the field with suspected concussion Cruden responded to Farrell’s penalties with two of his own.

Farrell missed a drop-goal but on the stroke of half-time, after All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw infringed at a ruck, the fly-half kicked England into a 14-11 interval lead.

McCaw strikes

Cruden saw his early second-half penalty come back off the post, but New Zealand soon led for the first time in the match.

England replacement lock George Kruis rushed up in defence but was left stranded by Cruden’s cut-out pass.

Prop forward Owen Franks charged forward and New Zealand created an overlap which meant McCaw had time to gather Dagg’s poor pass before crossing for a try.

Source: David Davies

Cruden made a mess of the conversion but New Zealand were 16-14 in front.

New Zealand were a man down in the 57th minute when Dane Coles was shown a yellow card for kicking out at opposing hooker Hartley.

Yet, with rain now lashing down in the final quarter, New Zealand extended their lead when a man down.

Replacement fly-half Beauden Barrett missed his first close-range penalty but made no mistake with his second to make it 19-14 to the All Blacks.

And then wave after wave of New Zealand attacks was rewarded with a first Test try for replacement prop Charlie Faumuina nine minutes from time.

England scored a converted penalty try in the final minute but it was all too late for the home side.

– © AFP, 2014

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