All Blacks edge England after controversial finish

Date published: November 10 2018

New Zealand came from 15-0 down to defeat England 16-15 at Twickenham on Saturday but another match involving the Red Rose ended in controversy.

Similar to the Owen Farrell incident last week, which cost South Africa a chance of winning the game, this time the hosts were denied when Sam Underhill thought he had scored, only for television match official Marius Jonker to rule it out.

Eddie Jones’ men were outstanding in the opening 35 minutes, taking a 15-0 advantage via Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley tries, but the All Blacks responded excellently.

Damian McKenzie touched down before Beauden Barrett added a pair of three-pointers – including his first ever drop-goal at international level – to reduce the arrears to 15-13.

As the rain continued to affect proceedings, there were fewer scores in the second period, but the visitors took control as Barrett moved them in front, before an impressive home team were denied victory by a late call.

After defeating the Springboks in their opening November Test, England effectively had a free shot at this game. Few expected them to win but the hosts started superbly, showing patience and a high skill set to move the ball through the phases in difficult conditions.

The forwards, who were considered underpowered in comparison to the visitors, carried excellently and Ben Youngs moved it wide at the right time, finding Ashton on the right to finish.

Jones’ charges were not done there and Jonny May caused further consternation in the opposition rearguard by kicking ahead and forcing McKenzie to conceded a five-metre scrum.

Although the All Blacks scrum forced the home side to infringe, it did not deter the Twickenham outfit and a Farrell drop-goal moved them 8-0 clear.

New Zealand looked to responded with McKenzie displaying a couple of nice touches but the Red Rose were soon back on the front foot and an outstanding maul resulted in Hartley touching down.

Steve Hansen’s men were stunned by the hosts’ defensive pressure but they regained their composure and showed superb handling to get themselves back into the contest. Beauden Barrett dictated play well from fly-half and the two-time World Player of Year sent McKenzie across the whitewash from close range.

Barrett converted and then added a three-pointer following Farrell’s errant restart as the All Blacks went into the break just five points in arrears, despite struggling for the majority of the half.

New Zealand took that momentum into the second period and, although they couldn’t force their way over the line, Barrett made sure they came away with points through a drop-goal.

England’s set-piece had remained solid, even if there were concerns before the game, but it began to malfunction following Jamie George’s introduction and the visitors assumed command with their pivot kicking another off the tee to give the All Blacks the lead.

The lineout wobbles were costing them crucial possession and territory, allowing the tourists, who were attempting to pin Jones’ outfit back, off the hook.

The Red Rose continued to battle, though, and thought they had won the game when Courtney Lawes charged down TJ Perenara’s kick. Underhill collected and finished superbly, but Jonker controversially ruled out the try for offside as the world champions held on.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Ashton, Hartley
Con: Farrell
Drop-goal: Farrell

For New Zealand:
Try: McKenzie
Con: Barrett
Pens: Barrett 2
Drop-goal: Barrett

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (cc), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley (cc), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Ryan Crotty

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)