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The media are calling the All Blacks victory over England last Saturday (24-21), “the narrow escape” because of the slim three-point difference. However, reviewing the 12-points in lost kicking opportunities for New Zealand, maybe it was England that experienced the escape.
The match represented England fifth straight loss in a row to the World Champions, and the fourth in the calendar year. Last time the Red Roses prevailed was in 2012.
For the home crowd, this match was billed a possible dress rehearsal for next year’s Rugby World Cup to be played in England. The other rugby powers (South Africa, Australia, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland) would have disputed that statement.
England, which appeared in new jerseys with the Victoria Cross for Remembrance Day, led at the interval 14-11, five points coming from new winger Jonny May who beat two All Blacks for a splendid try. But in the second half, the All Blacks, like an engine that runs efficiently for 40-minutes, powered up for 13-poinits, limiting England to a late in the game penalty try.
All concurred that the All Blacks dominated the second half, inhibiting the stalled England offense from being started. Some might claim that the Kiwis played with twice the number of caps in the England XV, the lack of test experience glaringly evident in the second half.
Speculation, punditry, commentary about England’s chances will continue for the next ten-months until the Cup begins in September. For now, the All Blacks remain ascendant, and on top of the standings.
England: M Brown, S Rokoduguni, B Barritt, K Eastmond, J May, O Farrell, D Care; J Marler, D Hartley, D Wilson, D Attwood, C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw, B Vunipola.
Replacements: G Kruis for C Lawes (22), B Morgan for B Vunipola (52), M Mullan for J Marler (54), B Youngs for D Care (62), A Watson for S Rokoduguni (62), G Ford for K Eastmond (64), R Webber for D Hartley (73), K Brookes for D Wilson (73).
New Zealand: I Dagg, B Smith, C Smith, SB Williams, J Savea, A Cruden, A Smith; W Crockett, D Coles, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw, K Read.
Replacements: P Tuipulotu for B Retallick (40), C Faumuina for O Franks (45), R Crotty for C Smith (57), B Barrett for A Cruden (59), B Franks for W Crockett (59), TJ Perenara for A Smith (66), K Mealamu for D Coles (66), L Messam for J Kaino (66).