Sat, 21 Jun 2014 09:24
World record equalled
New Zealand equalled the world record for most consecutive Test wins when they smashed England 36-13 in Hamilton on Saturday.
Not only was it the All Blacks' 17th consecutive win, a record they still share with South Africa, but more importantly they won the series against England 3-0.
The game was over as a contest well inside the opening half-an-hour.
England will again point to their second-half display as a positive, but in reality the real picture of this series - and the chasm in class between the two sides - was painted in that opening stanza.
The difference was the skillsets of the two teams.
England relied on their stodgy, structured approach in which pace in execution was often absent. The All Blacks produced an array of sublime off-loads, counter attacks and running angles that were not just entertaining, but also far more effective than the opposition's predictable gameplan.
It took the All Blacks just four minutes to open up the English defence. Aaron Smith, after a shocking pass from Ma'a Nonu, spun out of a tackle and then unleashed a long pass to the left where Julian Savea had too much pace for the cover.
Freddie Burns opened England's account with a penalty in the seventh minute, before Savea went over for his and New Zealand's second try.
This time it was Aaron Cruden that set up the score - looping around Richie McCaw and taking a well-time pass, before sending it out wide to Savea.
Burns landed a second penalty, before England were reduced to 14 men at the end of the first quarter. French referee Jérôme Garcès decided Billy Vunipola's tackle on Aaron Cruden was 'dangerous' - when, in fact, he attacked the ball and his hand slipped over the shoulder. It is a sad indictment that match officials feel the need to inject themselves into the game when it is not required.
New Zealand got their third try while still a man up - Cory Jane stepping Marland Yarde, before off-loading to Aaron Smith, who sprinted over.
The fourth try was the 'Smith show' - with Ben Smith making the crucial bust from a counter and Aaron Smith running a great support line to go over for his second try.
Cruden kicked three conversions and a penalty (way back in the 16th minute) as New Zealand took a commanding 29-6 lead into the break.
England got the second half off to the perfect start. An off-load from Joe Launchbury to Ben Youngs, who sprinted clear. He off-loaded to Manu Tuilagi, who went close. From the resulting ruck Marland Yarde wormed his way over. The conversion made it 13-29 and gave England a glimmer of hope for a revival.
New Zealand hung on and looked comfortable, till just inside the final 10 minutes. That was when replacement prop Wyatt Crockett added another yellow card to his crowing collection - this time for collapsing a maul. It came in the wake of a general team warning for repeated infringements inside the All Black 22.
Try as they might, England failed to trouble the scores again.
In fact the game ended with Julian Savea getting his hat-trick try after the hooter for full-time had already sounded - Cory Jane again being prominent. Beauden Barrett rubbed salt into the festering English wounds with the conversion - making it a comprehensive 36-13 win, a margin that probably flatters England.
Man of the match: Julian Savea continued his prolific try-scoring form, with his hat-trick certainly putting him in contention. Aaron Cruden produced some neat touches. You can also look at almost all the All Black forwards, as each of them produced something worth mentioning. However, this was the Smith show - Ben Smith making great line-breaks on the counter and Aaron Smith producing great passes and scoring a couple of fine tries. They share our award.
Moment of the match: You can look at any one of the six tries in the match, but for us the first Julian Savea try, in the fourth minute, was the moment that set the tone and showed New Zealand's intent.
Villain of the match: Whomever told England they have a chance of beating New Zealand. Perhaps even the English coaching staff and players for believing the hype.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Savea 3, A Smith 2
Cons: Cruden 3, Barrett
Pens: Burns 2
Yellow cards: Billy Vunipola (England, 21 - foul play, high tackle), Wyatt Crockett (New Zealand, 72 - repeated infringements, collapsing a maul)
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty.
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Joe Launchbury, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Luther Burrell.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
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