England pain to be All Blacks' gain
Sun, 02 Dec 2012 09:48
Six months' worth of hurt
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said he was facing six months worth of hurt as his final match before taking a break from the game saw England inflict a stunning 38-21 defeat upon the world champions.
Asked how much hurt he felt after a loss that ended New Zealand's 20-match unbeaten run, McCaw replied: "Six months worth".
"It's disappointing no doubt, it would have been nice to finish off with a performance we were happy with but the thing is you can't do anything about it right now.
"All the boys will take a wee while to get over it but they will come back next year and this [defeat] will remind them what it's all about. If there's a positive out of it, that's probably not a bad thing to have next year.
"Once we get past the disappointment of today, the year hasn't been too bad really," he said of a 2012 that saw New Zealand win the inaugural Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship.
McCaw, who last year led New Zealand to World Cup glory on home soil, had always planned to take time out from a glittering career following the conclusion of the 2012 end of year international programme in Europe.
But instead of a winning au revoir, the 31-year-old openside flank found himself on the wrong end of one of the most extraordinary scorelines in his 116 Test matches as England enjoyed a record margin of victory over the All Blacks, surpassing a 13-0 success back in 1936.
Saturday's second half saw the teams share six tries, with wing Julian Savea and No.8 Kieran Read, McCaw's heir apparent as Test captain, crossing to bring the All Blacks back into the match as England's lead was cut to 15-14.
But England responded with three tries as backs Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi all touched down in the space of just eight minutes before Savea scored his second try late on,
Equally astonishing was that England, for whom their 21-year-old flyhalf Owen Farrell kicked 17 points, were 15-0 ahead shortly after half-time with normally reliable New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter missing two penalties before the break.
England's forwards were immense in both set-piece play and the loose, with New Zealand forcing into uncharacteristic errors, while their backs showed a cutting edge rarely seen in recent weeks.
"They kept the scoreboard ticking over and apart from that period just after half-time, when we got back in the game, we were on the back foot," McCaw said of England.
Asked where the match was won and lost, McCaw replied: "Especially in the first half, we lost the contact.
"They put pressure on us and forced us into mistakes. Test matches, big games, it's about taking the chances when they are on offer. They had a couple and they took them."
England's win prevented the Home Nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) from going through an end-of-year programme without a victory over the old Tri-Nations (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) for the first time in 15 years.
It was also a huge boost to a fledgling England side who in 2015 will look to emulate McCaw's men by winning a World Cup on home soil.
"Even when we perhaps got back in the game they didn't panic, they didn't try to do anything special and they got the momentum back," said McCaw. "They are going to be a good team, there's no doubt about that."
For England captain Chris Robshaw, who like McCaw leads his team from openside flank, this victory in their final match of 2012 was the perfect response to narrow defeats by Australia (20-14) and South Africa (16-15) in the preceding two weeks.
"Everyone rose to the occasion and proved a few people wrong," said Robshaw.
"No one had given us a chance. People were saying 'what are New Zealand going to beat them by?'"
New Zealand's next international is not until the first of a three-Test series against France in Auckland on June 8 and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said: "Some guys will have to wait six months and others will have to wait until the next Test to right that matter.
"We'll go away and have a look at what we have to do get better and I'm sure we'll come back."
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