New Zealand vs. England: Score and Lessons Learned from Dunedin Test
New Zealand 28–27 England
England's hopes of levelling their Test series were shot down in flames by a 20-minute spell from the All Blacks in the second half in Dunedin.
A 10-6 half-time lead for the tourists was transformed into a 28-13 deficit with three typically ruthless New Zealand tries that showed why Steve Hansen's men are the best in the world.
England replied gamely with two tries that made the scoreline suggest a closer contest than this was.
Here are the lessons learned.
Loose Passes Cost England
In the first half, England made three handling errors in attack that left points begging. It was only a matter of time before one such error would give New Zealand the chance to launch one of their deadly counter-attacks.
And it happened early in the second half when Billy Twelvetrees forced a pass in the tackle that wasn't on. In less than 30 seconds Ben Smith was under England's posts.
That handed momentum to the home side and they grasped it, blowing England away in the 20 minutes after half-time following that try.
The All Blacks are the best team in the world at taking their chances, and they forged two more opportunities which they took ruthlessly.
England's Attacking Options Bear Fruit
Marland Yarde's try was created by first using Luther Burrell and planting the seeds in Aaron Cruden's head that he was coming straight for him again.
The No. 10 was looking for the Northampton man to charge down his channel rather than watching the angle from Yarde, who streaked through the gap between Cruden and Richie McCaw to score.
This was a great example of Owen Farrell knowing his options, using one of them to soften the target area up, then switching to the other to slice it open.
Possessing—and being able to execute—these choices makes England's back line a dangerous weapon and causes doubt in the minds of those close channel defenders, who become unsure as to where the ball carrier is going to come from.
Tuilagi Must Play at Centre
It was a positive selection to put Manu Tuilagi on the wing and see how much damage he could cause from there, but compared to the impact he made last week in the No. 13 jersey, he was far less effective.
Best centre in the world wasted on the wing #Tuilagi— fuimaono-sapolu (@Eliota_Sapolu) June 14, 2014
Luther Burrell had one of his poorer games in an England shirt, seeming to fall off some tackles and not having a great deal of success with ball in hand after one initial charge through Cruden.
England should reinstate Tuilagi next week and recall Chris Ashton to the starting lineup.
Don’t Kick It to Ben Smith
Ben Smith was the class act on the field. Playing in his home stadium, he was a danger to England every time he attacked. England didn't help themselves by kicking to him too often.
He was on hand to finish off the first counter-attack with a try and beat Marland Yarde to set Ma'a Nonu up for his score.
He is the form player in New Zealand at present and showed himself to be a cut above in this second Test.
England Have to Take Their Chances
Just before half-time, Manu Tuilagi scooped up a spilled ball from Cory James and rampaged up the right hand touchline.
He was brilliantly caught by the outstanding Ben Smith, but had he scored, it would have put England firmly in command at the break.
It was the type of chance you would have put your mortgage on the All Blacks converting into a try. England have to find that ruthless streak if they are to put this team away.