Planet Rugby

England sunk without trace

21st June 2008 10:22

Share:

MCCaw injured

Man down: New Zealand win, but at what cost?

New Zealand duly put paid to England in the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday, racking up five tries and 44 points to England's 12, but incurring injuries to two key players in the process.

Ali Williams and Richie McCaw both hobbled out of the first half with ankle injuries, a huge worry to Graham Henry. But the flip side was the excellence in debut of both Richard Kahui and Adam Thomson, and Anthony Boric's cover of Williams was perfectly adequate.

England played like a tired and distressed team. They were rarely able to come out of their ten-man shell, and two glorious scoring chances were spurned in the first half. Olly Barkley missed a kick in front of the posts early in the second, and James Haskell gave away three points by throwing the ball away at a penalty just after.

But we know about England. This Test merely underlined the deficiencies and gameplay fatigue of the first. The tactics were restrictive in the extreme - Toby Flood pumped up four high balls in the first quarter of an hour alone - but on the rare occasions the ball went wide it was apparent why. There was not one clean England back-line break. Danny Care and James Haskell both made inroads, but there was none of the subtlety and sleight of hand that saw Ma'a Nonu go in for his try for example.

With the Tri-Nations coming up, we should now focus on New Zealand. 44-12 against England is a handy score, and there were lots of highs, but a few lows too.

The emergence of Thomson and Kahui means that two pieces of the new All Black jigsaw have been found and fit snugly in. Indeed, Thomson's contribution was such that McCaw was hardly missed. His positional work and reading of the game was superlative. Anthony Boric is a little raw still, but if he can assimilate from the tutelage of Williams and Thorn, he will be a regular by 2011.

The All Black scrum lived up to its midweek promise and made mincemeat of the English offering. The match in the loose was a little more even, with referee Jonathan Kaplan sparing no huff and puff from his whistle. There were seven penalties in the first ten minutes alone, five for breakdown offences. Neither team was prepared to dance to Kaplan's shrill tune entirely though, and the result was a whistle-punctuated game for long periods, and plenty of turnover ball for both sides.

Of the non-debutants in black shirts, Dan Carter once again directed with magnificence, Nonu ran hard and straight and intelligently, and Sitiveni Sivivatu worked hard to get himself some opportunities. Brad Thorn and Rodney So'oialo - who assumed the captaincy with the exit of McCaw - were tireless. The front row was merciless.

But it is not all gravy. Andrew Ellis failed to build on last week's display, and there were a few too many careless passes from the base of the scrum. There were also conspicuous lackadaisical moments under a couple of high balls and at a couple of restarts, lapses in concentration that may be fine against England, but will cost against South Africa and Australia.

In defence, in rare moments when England upped the tempo with tapped penalties or blind side snipes, the All Blacks struggled to cope with the pace of retreat. Twice tries were yielded, and twice further penalties of 10 metres. The defensive job was made easy by England's lack of any weapon more dangerous than the sledgehammer.

New Zealand took the lead in the first minute, kicking the ball off to the English, tackling the English, turning over the English ball, forcing an English infringement, and Carter kicking the ball through the English posts.

The first threatening move of the match came from the English as well, with James Haskell running to and down the short side to take a line-out tap-down. He popped inside to Care, but the scrum-half betrayed his inexperience by opting to chip instead of duck and weave.

Otherwise, Flood kept pumping up-and-unders with marginal effect, and from the fourth, New Zealand scored. Leon MacDonald countered down the left, there were two quick rucks, and then the ball went wide right to Carter, who broke the line and then switched deftly with Kahui, who powered home with unrestrained glee for his debut try.

Kahui went close to the corner again after 25 minutes after another counter attack, and Carter landed another penalty shortly after to make it 13-0.

Tom Varndell was tackled into touch by MacDonald in the corner after Carter had dithered under a high ball, but Carter made amends. He was held up after regathering his own chip, and from the resultant 5m scrum he cut a delicious angle to go under the posts and make it 20-0.

Twice England ought to have scored before the break; once Sione Lauaki turned English ball over in a key position, and Mathew Tait was deprived of the luck of the bounce from a clever chip. It remained 20-0 to half-time.

Little changed in the second half, bar the tackles becoming slightly looser. Olly Barkley missed a sitter of a penalty in front of the posts, and Carter made it 23-0 when Haskell threw the ball away and was penalised a further ten yards.

Care finally got England on the scoresheet, tapping and going all the way from a scrum penalty, but as if to prove their control the All Blacks simply swept upfield and scored two minutes later. Sivivatu took the ball off Ellis to make the incision, and the combination of the offload in the tackle and Nonu's running line was unstoppable.

Mike Tindall was sin-binned for a slowing-down of All Black ball straight out of the Dallaglio book of cynicism, and the All Blacks opted to scrum the penalty. Lauaki picked up the ball at number eight and scored, Carter making it 37-7 with the extras.

Once again some quick England tempo caught the All Blacks defence napping, and Varndell got his try, but New Zealand dominated thereafter. Thomson was denied a debut try by a contentious TMO decision, but Jimmy Cowan got his first Test try in the final minute with a quick dart.

Man of the match: James Haskell played well for England but let himself down with that moment of indiscipline, and Lee Mears was also strong. For the All Blacks, the front row was in fearsome form, Carter was his usual excellent self, and Nonu and Kahui formed a fine partnership. But with a performance of street wisdom far in excess of a meagre 80 minutes of experience, Adam Thomson's debut is marked with a MOTM accolade.

Moment of the match: Danny Care gave England a brief flicker of hope with his try, the flicker promptly extinguished by the try from Nonu, which both killed the game off and was the pick of the bunch.

Villain of the match: A collective award for all the players so intent on killing the ball at every breakdown. It really ruined the flow of the game, and despite the best efforts of Jonathan Kaplan.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:

Tries: Kahui, Carter, Nonu, Lauaki, Cowan

Cons: Carter 4, Donald

Pens: Carter 3

For England:

Tries: Care, Varndell

Con: Barkley

Yellow card: Tindall (England, 61, deliberate infringement)

New Zealand: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Neemia Tialata.

Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Sione Lauaki, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Mils Muliaina.

England: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Jamie Noon, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Tom Rees, 6 James Haskell, 5 Steve Borthwick (c), 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Jason Hobson, 18 Ben Kay, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Pete Richards, 21 Olly Barkley, 22 David Strettle.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Touch judges: Mark Lawrence (South Africa), Matt Goddard (Australia)

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs Lions17:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615