JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

New Zealand All Blacks scrape past England in First Test


Marc Hinton

New Zealand 20 England 15

Clash of the Titans: Ma'a Nonu tackles England's Marland Yarde.

Clash of the Titans: Ma'a Nonu tackles England's Marland Yarde. Photo: AFP

Unconvincing and probably undeserved, but the All Blacks somehow eked out a 20-15 victory over England at Eden Park last night thanks to a 78th-minute try from Conrad Smith at Eden Park.

With the game locked at 15-15 inside the final four minutes, No 10 Aaron Cruden remarkably turned down a potentially match-winning shot at goal and took a tap penalty.

Chris Robshaw makes a clean break up the middle.

Chris Robshaw makes a clean break up the middle. Photo: AFP

New Zealand versus England
View Match Statistics
Players Smith (78min) Tries 1 Tries 0 Players
Players Cruden 0/1 (0%) Conversions 0 Conversions 0 Players
Players Cruden 5/5 (100%) Penalty goals 5 Penalty goals 5 Players Burns 4/4 (100%), Cipriani 1/1 (100%)
Players Drop goals 0 Drop goals 0 Players Burns 0/1 (0%)

Somehow his adventure was met with reward – eventually. Replacement prop Wyatt Crockett was held up just short from his drive at the line, but from the resultant scrum the All Blacks were able to finally put Conrad Smith across out wide against the outmanned English defence.

It was a fortunate victory indeed by a very rusty All Blacks side who never found anything approaching their 'A' game. A 15th straight test victory and a record 31st on the bounce at home was scarcely deserved, but again showed how good this New Zealand side is at the death of a tight test.

The depleted England side were good. Very good. But they were aided and abetted by an off-key performance from the All Blacks, completely lacking in the rhythm and the pace that you associate with this quality rugby side.

Manu Tuilagi of England stops Israel Dagg from scoring a try. Click for more photos

All Blacks take on England

An understrength England are giving the All Blacks an almighty scare in Auckland. Photo: Getty Images

The world champions were strangely shaky under the high ball, awful with their handling, and too often kicked away what little quality ball they were able to muster.

The lack of team cohesion was rust, for sure. But not the handling and continuity errors. That was just poor concentration and execution. Israel Dagg, at fullback, made more errors in 54 minutes than he has for the entirety of the Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.

The first 40 minutes ended at 9-9 on the scoreboard, three penalties apiece, though with England very much on the right side of the balance-of-play ledger.

James Haskell passes the ball to the backline.

James Haskell passes the ball to the backline. Photo: Reuters

It was an unusual opening half of the new season from the All Blacks. Rusty, yes. But restrained, too. There was a distinct lack of ambition about their play, and a preponderance of kicking at the expense of keeping ball in hand, and building the phases.

It was as though the world champions were reluctant to be caught in possession by the visiting defensive line, and much of their kicking was either aimless or lacking aim.

Either way, it was England who played most of the positive rugby through the first half and also came closest to breaking the try deadlock. They probably should have scored around the 10-minute mark, but Mike Brown uncharacteristically knocked on with numbers in their favour close to the line.

It was a half very much played at England’s place – slow and methodical. And much of that was of the All Blacks’ doing as they neglected to play the possession football that is their hallmark at their best.

A 40 minutes that lurched from set piece to set piece very much suited the visitors, and some pretty ordinary play under the high ball and 11 missed tackles also failed to ignite the All Blacks' cause. All told it was an unimpressive start to the new campaign from a side that never really made the step-up in level from Super Rugby.

The All Blacks failed to step up their game through the third quarter and were lucky to head into the final quarter of an hour on level terms, at 12-12, with a fourth penalty apiece.

Brodie Retallick’s big 70th minute break up the middle finally found England’s defence wanting, and when wing Marland Yarde flopped all over the ball, not only was he yellow-carded but Cruden was able to edge the All Blacks in front 15-12.

The lead lasted just three minutes before Danny Cipriani levelled when his own break forced the All Black error at the tackle.

But it was the veteran Conrad Smith who decided things with one of the more crucial tries of his long career.

Aaron Smith was a rare All Black to find some form in this forgettable encounter, the halfback’s sharpness and speed of execution at a level most of his team-mates failed to match

Skipper Chris Robshaw had an outstanding game for the English, while powerhouse No. 8 Ben Morgan also impressed with his ability to get over the advantage line, and sometimes well beyond.

Brown, at fullback, showed the class that saw him named the best player in the Six Nations and big Manu Tuilagi was again a metre-eater with all in hand. There was also plenty to like from a livewire display from inside centre Kyle Eastmond in just his third Test.

56 comments so far

  • Is that the best the “World Champions” can offer: a five point win at the death against a scratch team of Poms, playing with a man short for 10 minutes and having Grannie Owens as the 16th AB. Who does Owens think he is Craigie Boy Joubert?

    Auntie Helen
    Date and time
    June 08, 2014, 12:58AM
    • @ Uncle He Len.... Well sport you need to give your head a good shake, as Clive Owen, just happens to be the best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer, at this moment. If you care to recall the game last year, that was rated by a lot of the worlds top rugby personal, as the best, or greatest, test ever played, which was in Jo'burg between the Bokkies and All Blacks. The Referee was none other than Welshman Clive Owen. So it really makes your comment sound a little "tuity fruity"!!.

      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 11:45AM
    • Matter of opinion AH. Owens allowed the English that many "injury" breaks I thought they must have decided to play in 5 minute bursts. The AB's did play well but still came away with the win & again showed the mental fortitude to win a match that could have got away. The English team ( which you interestingly have chosen to denigrate as a scratch team) played very very well & showed some smart tactical thinking. Plenty to work on for the AB's especially the handling but a good tough first up test.

      Shane D
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 11:51AM
    • No, it's not. We're saving that for the only tough teams we'll play later in the year; the Springboks and England at home.

      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 11:52AM
    • No that's probably about the worst... What we needed though a close game and some points for improvement exposed.

      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 12:32PM
    • Still not great with numbers are we Ms Helen?

      They were only still in the game because they had to commit a professional foul to stay in it..... I also believe that's 14 on the trot

      Dr Cullen
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 1:44PM
    • Yes Auntie winners are GRINNERS and as they say people like you who cares !!! that doesn't help the drought England having against the world champion all blacks oh by the way the all blacks played with 13 men on your own turf and still won did we forget!!!!!

      gold coast
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 4:41PM
    • Come on Fantasy Footy Queen, you will have to stir better than that to get the Black Kings vans to the typewriter. Why didn't you throw in the thrashing by the Baby Boks. Your standard of stirring the pot has slipped over the years, try harder to get the numbers you are after.

      Coach's Comment
      Sunshine Coast
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 7:26AM
    • Wouldn't be a NZ test without an attempted satire from our sometimes resident know nothing Auntie would it?

      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 5:13PM
    • Don't forget aunty, the 'mighty' all blacks needed England to go down to 14 men before they could cross the line. England will take the series 2 - 1.

      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 10:25PM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Related Coverage

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Featured advertisers