All Blacks pass Twickenham test
All Blacks pass Twickenham testSHARE
The All Blacks kept their unbeaten run this year going with a hard-fought 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.
It was sweet revenge for their defeat at the same venue a year ago – their only loss since clinching the 2011 World Cup – but it was by no means easy sailing as England showed great heart to push them all the way.
The All Blacks made a fast start to the game, only to be hauled back by a determined England side that took the lead for the first time with 20 minutes to play, but it was the world champions who had the final say with Julian Savea's second try proving decisive.
They gave the ball width with the first chance they had, forcing an attacking line-out in the corner, and it was a magic inside ball from Kieran Read that put Savea through the blindside gap for the try.
England got on the scoreboard with a penalty from Owen Farrell soon afterwards and the All Blacks came storming back, with forwards and backs linking well and forcing the home side to work hard to keep them out.
The first scrum saw England feed on their own 22 and the All Blacks shoved them backwards to eventually earn a penalty which Carter slotted to make it 10-3.
England took it wide as they looked for a response, but found themselves isolated at the breakdown too often as the All Blacks applied typical pressure in the tackle area.
New Zealand seemed to be making ground with every carry, and once tighthead prop Owen Franks was able to break the defensive line it was a matter of working it wide with Read on hand to dive over in the corner.
With the match slipping away with them at such an early stage England launched a sustained attack on the opposition tryline with a series of driving mauls and scrums which eventually resulted in the desired try.
A powerful shove saw the ball bounce loose and it was Joe Launchbury who picked it up to dive on the line and bring his side back within striking distance at 17-10.
Carter hobbled off with an injury after just 25 minutes of his 100th Test, so it was up to Aaron Cruden to extend the All Blacks' lead to 20-10 when Billy Twelvetrees strayed offside.
However, they were struck a major blow when Read was shown a yellow card for diving into a ruck from the side in front of the poles, and Farrell stepped up to make it 20-13.
That gave England a window to attack just before half-time and they took advantage from a scrum which featured Ma'a Nonu packing down on the side to earn a penalty which Farrell slotted to make it 20-16 at the break.
The All Blacks replaced both their props at half-time and it was England that started the second half stronger as they forced the visitors back into their own 22.
New Zealand had a chance to strike first but Cruden hit the pole and instead it was England who closed the gap to one point after Wyatt Crockett had obstructed Chris Ashton.
New Zealand were rattled and, sensing an opportunity, England continued to press with their forwards driving it up to the 22 where Richie McCaw went off his feet at the breakdown.
Farrell made no mistake with the penalty, and England had the lead for the first time in the match with just 20 minutes left to play.
With their unbeaten season on the line the All Blacks threw everything at England who found themselves hanging on in their 22. The pressure finally told when a great offload from Nonu put Savea in a gap, and the big wing managed to ground the ball for the decisive try.
Another penalty from Cruden gave them some breathing room and they played out the rest of the game in England territory to seal a tough win.
Man of the match: Although he was shown a yellow card, All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read was simply superb on attack and defence once more and stood out above the rest.
Moment of the match: Julian Savea scored two good tries, but they were both set up by great passes – first from Kieran Read and then from Ma'a Nonu.
Villain of the match: There were none.
Pens: Farrell 5
For New Zealand:
Tries: Savea 2, Read
Cons: Carter 2, Cruden
Pens: Carter, Cruden 2
Yellow card: Kieran Read (New Zealand, 33 – repeated infringements, offside)
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 David Wilson, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alex Goode.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel 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 Steven Luatua, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)