All Blacks beat England 24-21 at Twickenham
LONDON (AP) — New Zealand defeated England 24-21 on Saturday, bossing a home side that’s desperate to make Twickenham a fortress heading toward the Rugby World Cup it will host in 10 months.
Instead, the All Blacks added to their aura with a news flash of their own: It was their seventh win in eight matches on England’s turf in the last decade, and they will feel right at home when they come back to defend the Cup.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, however, insisted the result would have no bearing on the World Cup, where New Zealand and England could meet only as early as the semifinals.
Of the All Blacks earning a psychological advantage, Hansen said, “That’s a load of baloney.
“The All Blacks have shown many times you can be top dog and not get there. Today is about winning today.
“There’s no psychological advantage because World Cups have shown time and again that prior history goes out the door.”
The All Blacks were set back by an unexpectedly strong start by England, playing its first test in five months, but the visitors gradually took charge, took the lead for good in the 46th minute, and squeezed the life out of England in the second half, despite a yellow card and heavy rain.
Putting away their customary flash and dash, New Zealand played smart, patient, textbook rugby in scoring three tries, and overcame making only three goalkicks out of eight shots.
Not until reserve prop Charlie Faumuina burrowed over from a ruck after 22 phases to make it 24-14 with nine minutes to go were the All Blacks safe on the scoreboard, but the match was already in the palm of their hands.
“I’m proud of the way the guys, after a slightly dodgy start, held our nerves, and got the points we needed in the second half,” captain Richie McCaw said. “I’m especially happy, when it was really bucketing down, that we held the ball to get across the line.”
In that second half, they overturned all of the statistics in which they were in deficit in the first half: Possession, territory, line breaks, penalties conceded, tackles.
England had barely touched New Zealand’s half in the second spell when the rain began and hooker Dane Coles was sin-binned for retaliating at opposite Dylan Hartley. But thanks to wise substitutions and savvy leadership, the All Blacks still dominated, bombing two tries and a penalty in front of the posts. When Coles returned, his teammates had won the period 3-0, and Hansen believed that was key.
“The reality is we won the game in that 10 minutes because we were able to play with 14 men,” Hansen said. “Yes, Coles was ill-disciplined, but what pleased us most was that our guys showed their fortitude, we won that period, and that hurt England.”
They then constructed a try of awesome ease for Faumuina, and put a fifth straight win over England to bed.
England finished as it started, with a try, but the penalty try off a maul in the dying moments merely flattered the scoreline.
A year ago on the same ground, New Zealand shot ahead 17-3 in even time. England should have pulled off the same feat on Saturday.
England winger Jonny May plucked out a solo try in the third minute by beating center Conrad Smith and last man Israel Dagg on speed.
England should have had two more tries by the 10th minute but May missed an unmarked Owen Farrell, and fullback Mike Brown, with the overlap, dropped a beautiful pass from inside center Kyle Eastmond.
New Zealand flyhalf Aaron Cruden crashed over to finish a 70-meter counterattack, then England struck back with two Farrell penalties for 11-5, while Cruden levelled with two of his own.
Farrell’s third penalty sent England into the break with a deserved three-point lead, but it lasted only six minutes into the new half.
The second try was an example of All Blacks poise and smarts featuring lock Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, and No. 8 Kieran Read. When New Zealand swung the ball left, it had a three-on-one, and McCaw his 25th test try.
The All Blacks finally led, and never let go.
New Zealand 24 (Aaron Cruden, Richie McCaw, Charlie Faumuina tries; Cruden 2 penalties, Beauden Barrett penalty), England 21 (Jonny May try; penalty try; Owen Farrell 3 penalties, George Ford conversion). HT: 11-14