New Zealand 16
TMO CONTROVERSY OVERSHADOWED the end of another England Test today, but this time it was the tourists who benefitted and came away with a one-point win.
After New Zealand battled back from 15 points down to lead in Twickenham, a Courtney Lawes chargedown and Sam Underhill break looked set to give Eddie Jones’ side a decisive lead.
Jerome Garces rules out the Underhill score. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
The celebrations were short-lived however as the TMO adjudged Lawes to be offside before TJ Perenara’s attempted box-kick and New Zealand were able to celebrate a narrow, nervy win thanks to the boot of Beauden Barrett and a Damien McKenzie try.
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England got off to a brilliant start in the driving rain, capitalising on Brodie Retallick’s early error to set an early attack in motion deep in Kiwi territory. Ben Youngs flung a sublime skip pass to the blindside right flank where Chris Ashton had more than enough power to accelerate off wet turf and over the try-line despite the last-ditch efforts of McKenzie.
Owen Farrell missed the resulting conversion, but a sweetly-stuck drop-goal after 10 minutes gave England an 8-0 lead to show for their early physical dominance.
And when a frenzied white maul rolled over the try-line to allow Dylan Hartley touch down, even the back-to-back world champions knew they had a steep hill to climb back into the game.
Yet climb they did. Trailing 15-0 with time running out in the first-half, captain Kieran Read bullishly passed up the chance for an easy three points, instead opting for an attacking scrum. The confidence in his team-mates was rewarded within two phases as Barrett’s reverse pass is eaten up by McKenzie before the fullback crashes over under the posts.
Beauden Barrett takes aim. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
And there was more to dampen the Twickenham mood before half-time as the All Blacks mounted another attack and, this time, settled for a kick at goal which was knocked over by Barrett to leave the tourists with just a 15-10 deficit heading into the second half.