An enthralling encounter on Saturday afternoon saw iconic Fly Half, Dan Carter, reach one-hundred caps for New Zealand. A packed house at Twickenham stadium witnessed Carters' class, even if it was only for twenty-five minutes as his landmark occasion was cut short.
With one minute fifty on the clock Kieran Reads' slick reverse pass in field put Julian Savea in to score the All Blacks first try. Things looked ominous. Read was applauded for his slight of hand and rightly so but he has produced better.
It was England's naivety in defence which saw three of their players drawn to Read with not one of them able to read the game or anticipate the inside ball. Youth and inexperience aside England should have marshaled the Kiwi Number Eight in to touch.
New Zealand were ruthless. Every chance they got they converted. Be it three points or seven. On sixteen minutes the Blacks crossed the whitewash again, this time a break from Prop, Owen Franks.
The ball was distributed out wide after the resulting break down and Kieran Read crossed to become the leading try scorer At Number Eight for New Zealand.
For the opening quarter New Zealand flew out of the blocks and England looked shell shocked.
Like South Africa did against Wales a week earlier, the first up tackler smashed his opponent back and then one, two or three All Blacks would flood through to win the break down or turnover England's possession.
When England did have the ball in attacking areas and were not turned over. They had chances to get on the scoreboard but chose to kick to touch. There seemed a lack of leadership both in the backs and the forwards. Chris Robshaw, England captain, Richie Mccaw, New Zealand captain, both play at seven. However they are leagues apart as players and as leaders. This was evident.
On twenty-three minutes, England scored a scrappy try off the base of a New Zealand scrum which gave them a foothold in the game. It came through Joe Launchbury. That is how England got back in to the game, through their forwards.
Englands' set piece was impressive. Courtney Lawes was immense in the line-out winning his own ball and stealing New Zealand's. In the scrum also England began to get the nudge on New Zealand. This showed when New Zealand started conceding multiple penalties.
Their ill-discipline cost Kieran Read who was sin binned on 32 minutes because of repeated offences.
England went in to the half time interval sixteen-twenty down. Their lack or creativity in midfield was again evident, highlighted because of the danger that New Zealand pose.
However England's pack was winning at set piece time and they are ball carrying well, in particular Courtney Lawes and Number Eight, Billy Vunipola. Before the match all the talk surrounded Kieran Read and his majestic form at Number Eight for New Zealand.
He was very influential with ball in hand and in defence. However he found himself sin binned. Did Vunipola play better than him? Or was it a case of New Zealand doing what they do, doing absolutely anything in the laws of the game or outside the laws of the game to prevent England and other teams from scoring tries.
After the break England carry on where they left off... With their forwards beating their opposite number or making good yards allowing Englands' backs to have plenty of ball. And credit to England, Billy Twelvetrees and Joel Tompkins, Englands' much maligned Centre partnership.
Two more penalties are converted by England Fly Half, Owen Farrell to make it twenty-two-twenty after 59 minutes.
However for all England's good play, New Zealand were still more than in the game. And they are not the World's number one side for no reason. On 63 minutes Ma'a Nonu created something out of nothing.
He received the ball in England's twenty-two, uses some foot work to good effect, draws two England players towards him and then throws a majestic offload to Julian Savea who beat a player for good measure and scored for the All Blacks.
Another Aaron Cruden penalty made the game 22-30 to New Zealand and the game was gone.
Overall England were deservedly beaten. However they can take a lot of positives from the game.
Their pack was very good, Courtney Lawes at the line-out was very athletic and dynamic. Their scrum was very effective too and they posed a very real threat to New Zealand.
However although Tompkins and Twelvetrees did break the line on occasion there was still a lack of creativity in the back line. Owen Farrell will be a good player but is too one dimensional at the moment. It is time for Toby Flood and other players like Jonothan Joseph or Manu Tuilagi to be given their chance. The latter when he is fit. England will not win anything with a back line playing as they are at the moment.
New Zealand were ferocious in contact. As mentioned earlier they win the collisions and breakdowns because they smash the ball carrier, stop him at source and then one, two or three plays flood through the gate and win the ball. They were run close on this occasion.
But when it mattered, led by the talismanic Read and Mccaw their pack was immense. Giving their very potent back line the ball to use and utilise which Ma'a Nonu did with great aplomb.
Julian Savea received man of the match and rightly so. He chased kicks, competed aerially and on the floor. With ball in hand he was lethal. While not at their best, New Zealand won and that is what the great teams do.
The term 'great' is used far to frequently in sport. But in this case it fits. The All Blacks are a great side, they won the last World Cup and very few would bet against them winning in England come twenty-fifteen. Dan Carter on his one-hundredth cap went off injured, a sad way to end his day. A World Class player for many years, he'll have a pivotal role to play if they are to retain the World Cup.
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