The All Blacks rebounded from a 10-0 deficit to beat England 28-27 in Dunedin and clinch the series. JON CARDINELLI reports.
New Zealand showed their composure at Eden Park last week, scoring a try in the 78th minute to win the Test. Their mettle would be tested again at the Otago Stadium, when a fiery and determined England raced to an early lead.
The first half of the match in Dunedin was open and entertaining, with both teams playing with plenty of passion and attacking intent. It was also during this period, however, where both teams blew a series of chances.
England would come to regret those wasted opportunities. Winger Manu Tuilagi latched onto a loose ball inside his own 22, and would have scored at the other end of the park if not for a lack of speed. Ben Smith not only caught Tuilagi, but managed to bring him to ground and effect a momentum-killing turnover.
Smith was outstanding for the All Blacks. That tackle on Tuilagi was one game-shaping moment, and Smith was involved in another shortly after half-time.
The All Blacks stepped up their intensity in the second stanza, and that physicality at the tackle was complemented by better decision-making out wide. After the defence forced a turnover, Aaron Cruden glided through a gap in the English defence, and unleashed Julian Savea. With one man to beat, Savea found Smith, who completed a terrific team try.
But the All Blacks were not done yet. They moved ahead by five points when Savea scored in the left-hand corner, and by eight when replacement flyhalf Beauden Barrett goaled a penalty.
The decision to yellow card England flyhalf Owen Farrell for cynical play at the breakdown was harsh. The All Blacks punished a 14-man England by scoring a further try through Ma'a Nonu, and with the score at 21-13 the hosts had effectively secured the result.
England scored two late tries to lend the scoreline some respectability, but the game was already over as a contest.
With the win in Dunedin, the All Blacks have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, and extended their winning streak to 16. England will have nothing but pride to play for when they tackle the All Blacks in the final game in Hamilton next week.
All Blacks – Tries: Ben Smith, Julian Savea, Ma'a Nonu. Conversions: Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett. Penalties: Cruden (2), Barrett.
England – Tries: Marland Yarde, Mike Brown, Chris Ashton. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3). Penalties: Farrell (2).
All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Manu Tuilagi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Chris Ashton.
LEATHERMAN PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Fullback Ben Smith made a try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi in the first half, but will be remembered for his attacking contributions. Smith created a number of chances for the hosts, and also showcased his finishing skills in the scoring of the All Blacks' first try.
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