Planet Rugby

Clinical All Blacks win at Twickenham

16th November 2013 16:21

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Julian Savea New Zealand try v England 2013

Two tries: Julian Savea

New Zealand continued their unbeaten run in 2013 with a hard-fought 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Julian Savea scored two tries with Kieran Read also crossing the England line for the All Blacks to win their 13th match of the year.

Joe Launchbury was England's sole try scorer as Owen Farrell kicked 17 points in a spirited fightback from 3-17 down to lead 22-20 before slipping away.

This was a game that had it all. Theatre, power, pace, skill and above all, physicality.

In the final analysis, New Zealand simply just found a way to win, avenging their defeat in the corresponding fixture last season, and calling on the reference points of 12 victories on the trot.

But don't denude the England display. One could argue that England, in defeat, put in their best performance of 2013, with both Billy's, Vunipola and Twlevetrees, truly coming of age as Test match players.

New Zealand started spectacularly, with the sublime Read producing a sumptuous offload from the touchline to put the flying Salvea over the whitewash, and exploiting England's narrow defensive line.

With the intensity of tackle and ruck increasing my the minute, the outstanding Read again exploited the wide fringes of England's drift defence to power over for his 15th try in test rugby to take the score to 17-3, and at that moment even the most optimistic of England fans started to fear a cricket score that Sachin Tendulkar would have been proud of.

However, this England side, led by a massive performance from the back row, refused to roll over and die. At times, the finishing and handling did not match the ambition or power, but a series of All Black infringements allowed Owen Farrell to kick deep into the corner, setting up a series of driving mauls, which eventually allowed Launchberry to power over for a well deserved try after 23 minutes.

England rocked the All Blacks either side of half time; at times, showing a width and intensity that had been sorely lacking in their two previous autumnal victories. In short, the World Champions were struggling to cope with the wave of intensity created by the direct running of the England forwards, notable Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola and skipper Chris Robshaw, and the Kiwis looked something akin to shell shocked.

As the All Blacks infringed several times at ruck time, with players streaming in from all directions, New Zealand's talisman Read received his marching orders from referee Craig Joubert for side entry. England used this to their advantage and turned the screw to get within four points of New Zealand at the interval.

The theme continued in the first ten minutes of the second half, and a brace of penalty goals by Owen Farrell took England to a fragile 2 point lead on 53rd minute mark.

With England challenging hard, the introduction of Ben Morgan for Billy Vunipola took the game up to new heights, as the Gloucester eight put in 20 minutes of power running that defined the phrase impact substitution.

However, New Zealand are not World Champions for nothing. Time and time again they've found a way to win in every situation imaginable, and this time it was the outstanding Ma'a Nonu who broke the English hearts with a coruscating break and a no less brilliant off-load around the back of Courtney Lawes to seal England's fate as Savea powered over for his second try.

England can also rue their exit strategy in the last ten minutes. Four line-outs lost in quick succession put unnecessary pressure on the home side, and moving forward, they will look to me more effective at getting out of their own 22 when pressure is brought the bear.

In the final analysis, this was a game that both sides can take a lot from; New Zealand can take comfort in their durability in the face of a English tidal wave of running. England equally showed width, pace and power that had not been evident for a long time from a side wearing the white shirt.

As Test matches go, this was as good as it gets.

Man of the Match: With so many performances of quality it is very hard to single out an individual. For New Zealand, Nonu, McCaw and Salvea were compelling, and equally, England's heroes were led by Mike Brown, Billy Vunipola and Courtney Lawes. But for 70 minutes, one man was at the epicentre of everything good about All Black Rugby, and our award goes to Kiwi number eight Kieran Read.

Moment of the Match: With so much great rugby on display, it's hard to single one moment out. Read's offload in the opening minutes was delightful, but great sides find a way to win in adversity, and Ma'a Nonu's offload and pass around Courtney Lawes' huge tackle, to set Salvea free for the clinching score, takes this week's prize.

Villain of the Match: Not a lot to report here, in a game of massive physicality but great sportsmanship. Wyatt Crocket's charge on Ashton was a little hot headed, so he gets our nomination.

The scorers:

For England:
Try: Launchbury
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 5

For New Zealand:
Tries: Savea 2, Read
Cons: Carter 2, Cruden
Pens: Carter, Cruden 2
Yellow card: Read

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 David Wilson, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alex Goode.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Venue: Twickenham
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Television match official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Assessor: Clayton Thomas (Wales)

By James While at Twickenham

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