All Blacks inflict more pain on England
November 21, 2009
England's Simon Shaw stretches the New Zealand defence at Twickenham
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New Zealand overpowered a much-improved England side 19-6 in a bruising encounter at Twickenham.
A second-half try from scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and 14 points from the boot of an off-colour Dan Carter carried the All Blacks to their latest success at England's HQ while two penalties from fly-half Jonny Wilkinson were the home side's only reward for a battling display that ultimately lacked precision.
Martin Johnson's under-fire England side entered their final autumn encounter with suggestions the clash would all be about damage limitation following inept displays in the loss to Australia a fortnight ago and in victory against Argentina last weekend. In response to widespread criticism they raised their game and rattled New Zealand with an aggressive and determined effort but were still found wanting with too many penalties and errors handing victory to a New Zealand side far from their best.
Johnson drafted Ayoola Erinle in at inside-centre for the game while Joe Worsley got the nod at blindside. Veteran Simon Shaw was recalled at lock with England evidently bulking up for the challenge. The All Blacks, who have returned to the summit of the world rankings on the back of victories over Wales and Italy in recent weeks, fielded virtually their strongest side including captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter.
England's intent was clear from the off with winger Matt Banahan crashing into Sitiveni Sivivatu and the ever-impressive Lewis Moody putting the heat on Carter within moments of the kick off. But that high-tempo opening came at a loss with Worsley limping off after just two minutes with a knee injury.
The hosts' eagerness got the better of them with Moody drifting offside to hand Carter the chance to give his side the lead, and eclipse Andrew Mehrtens mark as the All Blacks' leading points scorer, but he failed to slot the relatively easy kick.
Looking refreshingly hungry, England continued to press but New Zealand were not rattled and were happy to keep the ball in hand. Youngster Zac Guildford was caught inside his own 22 by England's Ugo Monye, whose tackle forced the ball loose, but the winger was denied a try with play called back for a knock on.
England continued to play with confidence and when All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw was penalised after getting on the wrong side at a ruck on the quarter hour, Wilkinson stepped up to give his side a deserved lead.
The tourists recovered from their loose start to stretch the England defence with first centre Ma'a Nonu and then Carter taking the attack to the hosts before the ball was worked wide to fullback Mils Muliaina, who darted for the corner. He was forced into touch by the combined challenge of Monye and flanker Tom Croft.
A swinging arm at a ruck by prop Tim Payne just inside his own half handed Carter another shot at the posts midway through the half and although the England prop escaped a yellow card, his indiscretion allowed New Zealand to level the scores.
It was then Cowan's turn to gift wrap a soft penalty by shoving a hand in England captain Steve Borthwick's face and Wilkinson gave his side the lead once more by slotting the simple kick. But the lead was short lived.
A little pressure at scrum time soon had England on the back foot and when flanker James Haskell was penalised at the next ruck it allowed Carter to get his side back on level terms.
England's defence was called into action again soon after and although their scrambling frustrated the All Blacks a binding penalty against Payne allowed Carter the chance to edge his side ahead but again the No.10 was off-target.
Carter made no mistake with his next effort early in the second period as England's penalty count continued to rise. Shaw was the next to feel the wrath of the referee's whistle but another error from Carter - this time failing to find touch - allowed England off the hook again.
But they failed to heed the warning and another penalty at the breakdown saw Carter find his range and set up a good attacking platform inside the England 22.The home side's over-worked defence creaked as the All Blacks' forwards turned the screw and a quick short side move between Cowan, McCaw and Sivivatu ended with the New Zealand scrum-half crossing in the corner for the first try of the game. Carter returned to type with an excellent conversion from out wide.
England responded well and some quick thinking from Shaw and replacement hooker Steve Thompson took them deep into the New Zealand 22 where a blatant penalty from Brad Thorn brought an abrupt end to the move. England opted for the lineout but were thwarted by an organised All Blacks defence. The industrious Haskell produced a strong run off the back of the scrum but Wilkinson's surprising attempt at a drop goal was wide.
England continued to look for a game-changing score but were hit on the counter with Muliaina exploiting a huge gap before galloping into space. He found centre Conrad Smith in support but Banahan and scrum-half Paul Hodgson scrambled back to bundle the ball into touch. The All Blacks streamed forward again from the lineout and when Thompson was penalised for going off his feet McCaw wasted no time in pointing at the posts. Carter's kick carried the visitors out to a commanding 13 point lead.
Not to be deterred, Croft led the charge at the re-start and England were rewarded with the scrum but Louis Deacon spilled the ball all too easily in contact. A superb cross kick from Carter then caught Monye out of position and found Guildford who almost wriggled away down the touchline but Cueto was there to snuff out the danger.
Croft conjured another turnover as the game entered the last ten minutes and raced unopposed to the corner but he was hauled down just short by Carter and Sivivatu withheld the subsequent surge from prop Duncan Bell.
There was still time for a clever kick from Shane Geraghty that turned the All Blacks but the bounce went against the chasing Monye to sum up England's day.
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