England 21-24 New Zealand: England rue missed chances

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams breaks through the England defensive line. Picture: Getty

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams breaks through the England defensive line. Picture: Getty

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New Zealand showed all their class and experience to grind out this win over England at Twickenham, weathering an early home storm to totally dominate the second half as the hosts ran out of ideas.

England, playing their first game since losing to the All Blacks in June, led 14-11 at the break after a scintillating Jonny May try but came to rue missed opportunities in a one-sided second half.

As rain saturated the ground, the world champions showed fantastic composure and discipline, perfectly encapsulated by the sustained 22-phase forward-dominated drive that led to their all-important third try by Charlie Faumuina.

It was an impressive turnaround by the All Blacks, who have now won 32 of the teams’ 40 meetings, including five victories in the last 13 months, and lost only two matches since their World Cup triumph three years ago. Scotland are next up for New Zealand, with the All Blacks at Murrayfield on Saturday.

For England, it was a frustrating start to a November series when they are hoping to put down a marker ahead of next year’s World Cup.

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They got the perfect start when May, often criticised for his lateral movement, showed the raw pace that has been shredding Premiership defences for three years to leave Israel Dagg clutching air as he streaked past him for his first international try four minutes in.

If Mike Brown had held on to a fizzing Kyle Eastmond pass soon after, England would have had a second score but instead it was New Zealand who struck in their first attack of the match after 14 minutes when Aaron Cruden stretched for the line after Jerome Kaino had blasted through some weak tackling.

It was a shock to England, who had been on top in every area until then, but they recovered well and edged 11-5 ahead with two Owen Farrell penalties.

Cruden levelled with two of his own before a third for Farrell took England to the changing rooms 14-11 ahead – but probably frustrated it was not a bigger lead.

That frustration was doubled six minutes after the restart when some crisp midfield passing opened a hole that enabled Richie McCaw to walk in his team’s second try.

The All Blacks were camped in the England half, with the home side struggling to build any sort of attack, and even when their hooker Dane Coles was sin-binned for kicking Chris Robshaw they continued to dominate.

Replacement stand-off Beauden Barrett missed a sitter of a penalty with 15 minutes left but a great break by Sonny Bill Williams, pictured, set him up for an easier shot soon after.

As pouring rain made handling difficult, New Zealand showed all their experience to change their approach and make progress through the forwards. Relentless pick and go charges ended with Faumuina forcing his way over to open a 10-point lead.

England rallied late on, securing a penalty try after endless All Black penalties, but it was about their only real period of pressure in the second half and they can have no complaints about the result.

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