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Lucky Escape For All Blacks As England Denied In Twickenham

England New Zealand

England 15

New Zealand 16

It took until the 60th minute for the All Blacks to lead but Steve Hansen’s men eventually shut down the first half dominance of England to claim a victory by the slimmest of margins.

In wet and difficult conditions, it was the home team who thrived early on at Twickenham as they put New Zealand to the sword with first half-tries thanks to uncharacteristic errors from the southern hemisphere side. But the world champions recovered and were aided by a late decision by the TMO to deny England a 75th minute try.

On his first start for England in four years, Chris Ashton opened the scoring after just two minutes following a sublime pass from Ben Youngs.

New Zealand were surprisingly rattled and error-ridden in the opening 20 minutes. Johnny May almost went over but the All Blacks were saved by the quick thinking and quick feet of Damian McKenzie who carried it over the line. From the resulting five-metre scrum, England worked the ball back to Owen Farrell who chose to take three points from a drop goal.

To the delight of the crowd and the surprise of rugby fans all around the world, England battered New Zealand, allowing them no time whatsoever, on the ball. Kyle Sinckler and Sam Underhill were particularly impressive with their tackling. They took that dominance to the maul, where they completely undid the All Blacks effort. Co-captain, Dylan Hartley was the man with the ball when they crossed the line and Farrell added the extras.

It was the 27th minute before New Zealand got a sniff of the try line thanks to the ingenuity of McKenzie but even on that occasion, the English defence were one step ahead and danger was averted. McKenzie was again the catalyst for their next attack before Rieko Ioane showed how dangerous he can be. Eventually, England were penalised at the breakdown and Kieran Read made the decision to go for the scrum. It was the deserving full-back who eventually got them over the line after brilliant hands from Beauden Barrett under the posts allowing an easy conversion for his out-half.

Underhill was penalised for an offside offence and Barrett nailed a penalty just before the half-time whistle to bring the game back to five points. The Hurricanes number 10 picked up right where he left off and scored his side’s first points of the second half after a matter of minutes, using the advantage to full effect to sail over his first ever drop goal for the All Blacks.

But it wasn’t long until the home side were back on the front foot. It took some well-organised defence to deny England a third try and a last scramble kick from Barrett to relieve the pressure. Yet, errors still allowed England to dominate once again as McKenzie kicked a ball out on the full.

Much to their relief, New Zealand managed to steal the lineout and were awarded a penalty which Barrett slotted to finally, put his side in front on the 60-minute mark. From there, they showed glimpses of the form you would usually associate with the world champions. McKenzie made a blistering break and it took a last-ditch tackle from Farrell to keep the gap at one point. It was England who then began to falter, especially at the lineout, with Brodie Retallick showing his class to steal two-in-a-row.

But like any good Test match, the drama was far from over with five minutes left on the clock. Replacement scrum-half, TJ Perenara set up a box-kick from the bottom of the ruck. Much to his shock, Courtney Lawes blocked down the kick, the ball bobbed around before it was gathered by Underhill who dodged the scrambling defence to score a try. However, the TMO was brought in to view the action and the replay showed that Lawes was offside.

Undeterred, England went in search of the winning score as Farrell and Ford both looked to move into the pocket for a drop goal. But much to the dismay of the crowd, the ball was knocked on and New Zealand managed to retain possession until the clock was up.

England: Elliot Daly; Chris Ashton (1T), Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (1 con, 1 DG), Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Dylan Hartley (1T), Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Brad Shields, Sam Underhill, Mark Wilson.

Substitutions: Jamie George for Hartley (HT) Harry Williams for Sinckler (57) Alec Hepburn for Moon (57)  Danny Care for Youngs (62) Courtney Lawes for Shields (64) Jack Nowell for Ashton (68) George Ford for Te’o (71)

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie (1T); Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett (1 con, 2 pen, 1 DG), Aaron Smith; Karl Tu’inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read.

Substitutions: Ryan Crotty for Williams (30) Dane Coles for Taylor (46) Scott Barrett for Squire (51) Ofa Tuungafasi for Tu’inukuafe (56) TJ Perenara for Smith (62) Richie Mo’unga for McKenzie (62) Matt Todd for Savea (67)

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter