England magic stuns All Blacks
England handed New Zealand their only defeat of the year, dominating the world champions on their way to a convincing 38-21 victory at Twickenham.
England handed New Zealand their only defeat of the year, dominating the world champions on their way to a convincing 38-21 victory at Twickenham on Saturday.
Rugby miracles do happen.
You saw one at Twickenham on 1 December 2012.
It will stay recorded in rugby history and in folklore till the last final whistle is blown.
Doff your hat. Bow in respect. You have just seen one of rugby's greatest victories and the team which achieved it deserves the world's respect.
History is there to be made and this much criticised England team, beaten by the Wallabies and the Springboks, made history when they gave the 'greatest team in the world' a hiding.
It is the highest score England has ever scored against New Zealand - since the first match in 1906, beating the 31 points of 2002 when England won 31-28 . It is England's biggest winning margin, beating the 13-point margin of 1936 when England won 13-0.
It is all sorts of records but even if it had been 15-14, as the score was for short while, it would have been astonishing feat and turn-up.
But 38-21 - that is a miracle.
It's great for rugby. Upsets are always great for sport, the spice of sport which has no foregone conclusions.
For England the victory will be all the more surprising as it confounded the pundits and the doomsayers alike. For New Zealand it will be all the more unpleasant for being unexpected, and it is a bitterly disappointing way for a great team to end a great run of success, the fall from such Olympian heights all the more painful.
The victory started in the forwards, as England flew into the All Blacks for 80 minutes. This was translated into pressure which in turn rattled the All Blacks and had great players looking decidedly ordinary. In the end it is true to say that England thrashed New Zealand. (You may never say or even think that again in your lifetime.)
New Zealand had it all - a great record, lauded and feted throughout the rugby world, possessing more than three times the number of Test caps that England had, possessed of gamebreakers that England simply did not have.
But the underdog stood up, growled, its hackles bristling and it bit with ferocity.
New Zealand used its throat-slitting 'Kapa o pango' haka before the match. It held no fears for England as they took off their purple tops and got down to rugby, running at the All Blacks, putting pressure on every aspect of their game, from Israel Dagg to Tony Woodcock. They were so confident, as Mike Brown ran in elusive counter. From the start England looked confident and the All Blacks rattled. Except for short periods in the second half they looked rattled for most of the game.
Daniel Carter of New Zealand, great player, missed two penalty goals which could have opened the score, both well within his ability, both inaccurate. After that England had the kicks at goal, not New Zealand. They had the kicks at goal because they were the attacking team.
When Crater missed, Owen Farrell was perfectly accurate, kicks flying right through the middle of the uprights. When Kieran Read was penalised at the tackle, Farrell goaled. 3-0 after 25 minutes. When Dagg was penalised at a tackle, Farrell goaled. 6-0 after 33 minutes. When the referee allowed advantage for an infringement by Brodie Retallick, Farrell dropped a goal. 9-0 after 38 minutes. When Read went offside, Farrell made the half-time score 12-0.
By now the crowd were alive and noisy.
England won the kick-off to start the second half, Owen Franks was penalised at a scrum and Farrell lifted the score to 15-0 after 42 minutes.
the game started to open up now. Alex Goode had a brilliant run down the midfield and Cory Jane enjoyed his second race on an overlap. But now it seemed the All Blacks' day had dawned.
England were penalised and Carter created a five-metre line-out on the New Zealand right. England rebuffed the maul but New Zealand went left. Carter broke, Read and McCaw charged close to the England line and suddenly Julian Savea cut inside Goode, past Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi, powering over for the try as Tom Wood and Farrell tried to stop him. Carter converted from far out. 15-7 after 48 minutes.
Back came the All Blacks playing the rugby they play best. Farrell failed to find touch and Dagg went racing down the right. They wen wide left and deft Conrad Smith sent Read plunging over for a try far out. 15-14 after 51 minutes.
You would have sworn this was the beginning of the end for England but it turned out to be the beginning of glory.
From a line-out on England's right Conrad Smith sprinted up out of his line and Brad Barritt sped past Read and through a gap. He gave to Tuilagi on his left and as he was tackled Tuilagi gave back to Barritt who scored. 20-14 after 53 minutes.
From a line-out on England's right Tuilagi sailed past Carter and McCaw and then tossed Aaron Smith aside. He gave to Ashton on his left and the eager win when diving over for a joyous try. 25-14 after 58 minutes. But that dream 10 minutes did not end here.
A penalty gave New Zealand a line-out and they attacked going right. Read passed but he passed straight to Tuilagi and for the second week in a row the sturdy centre intercepted. This time the only player near him was Ashton his teammate as he ran 58 metres to score. Farrell converted. 32-14 after 62 minutes.
The dream was real.
England were not finished. Ben Youngs broke past McCaw and gave to Ashton, Wood and Brown were close and New Zealand were penalised. New cap - England emptied their bench as victory was obvious - Freddie Burn goaled a penalty Abd then another one. 38-14 after 72 minutes.,
New Zealand, with unsurprising pride, attacked again and quick passing from a penalty-created line-out saw Savea in for a try which Aaron Cruden converted. 38-21 with five minutes to play.
Imagine the joy of the 82 000 at Twickenham.
New Zealand had a last attack as Victor Vito raced down the right and the match actually ended when Charlie Faumuina was held up over England's line.
Man of the Match: There were lots and lots of England candidates but our choice is the captain Chris Robshaw, who lifted his team to these heights and who himself played with every brave sinew of his being in tackling, carrying and competing.
Moment of the Match: Brad Barritt's try, coming as it did just when it seemed that New Zealand were back in charge.
Villain of the Match: The idea is silly.
Tries: Barritt, Ashton, Tuilagi
Pens: Farrell 5, Burns
For New Zealand:
Tries: Savea 2, Read
Cons: Carter 2, Cruden
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ben Smith.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)