An impressive New Zealand performance yielded four sparkling tries and a 37-20 victory over a defensively frail England side at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that two productive bursts by the All Blacks produced a result that flattered England as they were not really within shouting distance of the All Blacks.
After scoring 14 points in six minutes of the second half New Zealand made the match experimental with lots of substitutions and did not score a single point in the last 34 minutes of the half.
England’s scoreline was made more comfortable by two excellent moments of opportunism by Topsy Ojo. Opportunism was the only way England were going to score a try as for the rest of the match they did not look like doing so.
England started well enough with lots if vigour and enthusiasm but that lasted only twenty minutes or so and then largely fizzled out. Conceding penalties (14-6 against) did not help their cause as they found complying with the tackle/ruck law a problem whereas the All Blacks were more inclined to stay on their feet.
Despite getting a rare tighthead during the match, the England scrum was a rickety thing while the All Black’s line-out was often as mess. They lost five on their own throw and threw in skew twice.
Possibly the poorest aspect of the match was the handling. The match started in what New Zealanders call perfect conditions but it was not long before drizzle took over. It was nothing like the Wellington torrent of the previous week but may have led to nearly 30 handling errors in the match.
England’s biggest weakness was the 10-12 channel which allowed free flow to the All Blacks.
England kicked off and won a turnover to attack but Olly Barkley missed a penalty kick at goal as he did later in the half again. New Zealand had a chance when Neemia Tialata peeled at speed off a line-out but Ali Williams knocked on.
Then, when Greg Somerville was penalised at a tackle, Barkley opened the scoring. 3-0 after ten minutes.
Dan Carter levelled the scores when Tom Rees was unlucky to be found off-side and in the way. 3-3 after 14 minutes. This happened when the All Blacks destroyed the England scrum.
England were the first to look like scoring a try. Fullback Mike Brown kicked a high, innocuous ball and followed it. Andrew Hore was guilty of a gross knock-on on England’s right. They moved it to the far left where Mils Muliaina managed to get David Strettle out as the left wing sought to ground the ball.
England got the lead back. Richie McCaw tackled, got to his feet and played the ball and was penalised for incorrect entry and warned. Barkley goaled. 6-3 after 20 minutes.
Here endeth any serious English challenge. The All Blacks won the ball back from the kick-off and went left. Carter threaded through a delicate grubber which Conrad Smith raced onto, gathered before Mike Tindall could react and stumbled past Richard Wigglesworth to score near the posts. 10-6 after 22 minutes.
Luke Narraway was penalised at a tackle. 13-6 after 26 minutes.
Smith broke down the left. From a scrum Sitiveni Sivivatu came in and took a short pass from Andrew Ellis. He thrust ahead and gave to Carter who swept over for a try at the posts. 20-6 after 30 minutes.
Three minutes later Andy Sheridan was penalised at a tackle and sent to the sin bin, Carter taking the score to 33-6 after 33 minutes – 20 points in 11 minutes. That was a profitable burst.
Back came the All Blacks going left and on the way to scoring as Carter broke through feeble defence. He passed towards Smith close by on his left but the ball did not reach the elegant centre. Instead Ojo intercepted and went striding through empty acres as Muliaina scurried across but in vain. The noble Ojo scored far out and from far out Barkley converted. 33-13.
Half-time came soon afterwards.
From a line-out Ma’a Nonu ran past Sam Hodgson and Olly Barkley. That sounds simple and it was that simple. He looked like scoring but instead threw a long, accurate pass to Muliaina on his left and the fullback scored near the posts. 30-13 after 43 minutes.
Steve Borthwick knocked on and McCaw got the ball. The ball went left to Sivivatu who was on an overlap on the left and he scored. 37-13 after 46 minutes.
There was a party mood at packed Eden Park by now and perhaps the rugby became incidental. Certainly the quality fell away.
The only score in this time was a second try for Ojo. Narraway tackled Somerville who lost the ball forward. England grabbed it and Danny Care kicked a speculative kick diagonally across the field, the sort of kick which could have produced a try for the enterprising All Blacks. Instead Ojo got there ahead of Sione Lauaki and Sivivatu and ran round under the posts. 37-20 with eight minutes to play.
In that time Tindall collected a yellow card for fiddling on the ground.
New Zealand made a five-metre line-out which England repelled, winning a penalty against McCaw.
Man of the Match: Much as Conrad Smith was elegant, McCaw busy and Neemia Tialata destructive of English hopes, our Man of the Match is Dan Carter. He was simply much better than anybody else.
Moment of the Match: Topsy Ojo’s intercept and long run for his first try.
Villain of the Match: Yellow cards for Andy Sheridan and Mike Tindall. Sheridan was due to his team’s build-up to it, Tindall’s a solo effort.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Smith, Carter, Muliaina, Sivivatu
Pens: Carter 3
Cons: Carter 4
Tries: Ojo 2
Pens: Barkley 2
Cons: Barkley 2
Yellow cards: Andrew Sheridan (England, 32 – deliberate infringement, not rolling away in the tackle); Mike Tindall (England, 76 – deliberate infringement, off his feet at the ruck)
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Rodney So’oialo, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Neemia Tialata.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Sione Lauaki, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Leon MacDonald
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Tom Rees, 6 James Haskell, 5 Steve Borthwick (captain), 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Ben Kay, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Danny Care, 21 Jamie Noon, 22 Mathew Tait.
Date: Saturday, June 14
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.30 GMT)
Conditions: Predominantly clear, with a moderate wind. High 18°C, Low 17°C
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Touch judges: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Paul Marks (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)