All Blacks fight back to beat England
June 14, 2014
Julian Savea scored New Zealand's second try
© Getty Images
England slumped to a series defeat to New Zealand after being picked apart with clinical efficiency in a devastating second-half spell at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
A 10-6 interval lead turned into a three-try victory for the All Blacks that was far more emphatic than the scoreline suggests with Mike Brown and Chris Ashton crossing late on to sugar-coat the loss.
Tries from Ben Smith, Julian Savea and Ma'a Nonu took the match beyond England's reach, even if Brown's 72nd-minute score offered brief hope of a fightback.
Manu Tuilagi made his first international appearance on the wing as England targeted victory at to level the series. Tuilagi was moved from outside centre to accommodate the return of Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, with Tom Wood, Danny Care and Owen Farrell also reinforcing the assault on the second Test.
The All Blacks were strengthened by the addition of prolific wing Julian Savea following a knee injury as they sought a 16th successive victory.
New Zealand suffered at the hands of referee Jaco Peyper in the opening minutes, conceding two penalties with Owen Farrell sending the second between the posts.
The promising England start continued as Care crept into space and fed Burrell on the charge before Rob Webber fell inches short of crossing. Aaron Smith's clearance was charged down by Joe Launchbury, Wood leapt on the loose ball and Webber attempted to burrow over but was held up in the nick of time.
It looked all too easy for England and in the seventh minute Marland Yarde was delivered the ball from a rolling maul, shrugged off a tackle from Richie McCaw and forced his body over the whitewash.
Remarkably, when Farrell kicked the conversion the tourists led 10-0 and having conceded three points to the boot of Cruden they resumed their offensive.
The influential Twelvetrees cantered into space and Yarde continued to look for work off the left wing as New Zealand came under sustained pressure.
Geoff Parling forced a turnover but England squandered the chance to renew their attack because of the most recent in a series of unforced errors that had crept into their game.
The All Blacks looked typically lethal when on the ball, but one move that sent Savea sprinting into space was brought back for crossing, with Ma'a Nonu the guilty culprit.
Yarde continued to roam off his wing to superb effect and when Chris Robshaw pinched a New Zealand line-out throw they were off again only for Peyper to miss an obvious offside from Ben Smith.
For all England's dominance, they were failing to make the necessary impression on the scoreboard. A frantic and at times comical passage of play unfolded with Tuilagi showing a deft touch in defence, Dane Coles almost putting Ben Smith clear, Farrell strolling out of his own 22 virtually unchallenged and prop David Wilson kicking for touch.
The 28,400-capacity crowd remained gripped as wing Cory Jane dropped the ball when the line was at his mercy and Tuilagi picked it up then ran most of the pitch before succumbing to a try-saving tackle by Ben Smith.
New Zealand had the final say in a roller-coaster first half when Cruden sent a second penalty between the uprights.
The high-octane pace continued into the second half with England probing once again until Twelvetrees gave the ball away and New Zealand pounced for a brilliantly executed try.
Cruden found Savea with a perfectly timed pass and the All Blacks wing sped forward before sending Ben Smith over under thee posts, making it a simple conversion for Cruden.
A Farrell penalty levelled the score and New Zealand should have added a second try but Aaron Smith chose to go it alone instead of sending an unmarked Liam Messam over.
The move continued and this time the All Blacks struck by exploiting an overlap on the left as Savea strolled over for his 20th try in 21 caps.
The ominous sight of New Zealand moving through the gears and breaking the gainline at will was compounded by Farrell disappearing into the sin-bin for not releasing in the tackle.
When substitute fly-half Beauden Barrett kicked a penalty and Nonu crossed in the left corner following intelligent thinking from Conrad Smith, England's encouraging first half seemed a distant memory.
Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola arrived off the bench and threw themselves into the fray, but it was a 72nd-minute try from Mike Brown that offered hope of a comeback.
Brown cut in off the angle to cross and in the final play of the game, when the result was beyond doubt, Chris Ashton took Tuilagi's pass to narrow the defeat to one point.
Marlon Yarde piles over to give England the early advantage - but it would not last © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
A preview of the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership season as we run the rule over Bath, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and London Irish
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester