A rampant first-half display led New Zealand to a 36-13 win over England on Saturday, with Steve Hansen's side capping off a dominant 3-0 Test series triumph in Hamilton.
The All Blacks eased off the gas slightly in the second period, but a vintage opening 40 minutes of forward-thinking rugby filled with stellar support play laid the base for England's thumping, confirmed by The Guardian:
Winger Julian Savea bagged two tries before the clock had struck nine minutes as Stuart Lancaster's line-up appeared shell-shocked, not posing the same stubborn threat they had in the previous two outings.
New Zealand scored the bulk of their points before half-time and found themselves 29-6 up at the break. Rugby World editor Owain Jones praised the improvements made by England in the second period, as opposed to any slip in quality from the hosts:
Much, much better from England in second-half but New Zealand just too savvy, too slick and too good. Positives aplenty but plenty to ponder— Owain Jones (@OwainJTJones) June 21, 2014
Marland Yarde scored the visiting team's only try just after half-time, leading Planet Rugby's Ben Coles to term the 22-year-old as England's best winger:
Proof of why Marland Yarde is England's best winger. Worth remembering it's only his fifth cap.— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) June 21, 2014
That being said, the Harlequins-bound star did show his defensive weaknesses against Cory Jane, again pointed out by Coles, with a chunk of the All Blacks' yardage being clocked up down Yarde's flank:
Marland Yarde again caught out by the inside step. Test rugby is brutal.— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) June 21, 2014
The All Blacks' thirst for points was perfectly summed up after the final whistle, though, where instead of calling time on proceedings, Hansen's men insisted on running the ball, resulting in a stoppage-time try from Savea, sealing his hat-trick.
Aaron Smith scored the home team's other two tries, capitalising on breaks from Jane and Ben Smith, each of whom assisted two scores and made a collective 181 metres with ball in hand, per ESPN Scrum.
As RugbyDump indicate, Hansen's side are now just one top-tier Test victory away from breaking their own joint record of 17 consecutive such victories, equalled on Saturday:
All Blacks equal world record for consecutive top tier Test wins, 17. Held by New Zealand and South Africa. Aus can stop it in Rugby Champs— Rugbydump.com (@Rugbydump) June 21, 2014
Three years after winning the last Rugby World Cup and barely six months after enjoying the famous 100 percent calendar year of 2013, one might think that there would be some sort of disappointment to come from the All Blacks.
However, the reigning Rugby Championship title holders are in as fine a shape as ever if this display was anything to go by, despite the complacency that settled in with the substitutes' introductions toward the end of the match.
Talents both old and new continue to assert their presence in the side, and Lancaster will be looking toward the November internationals as the next chance to test out his squad's ability.
This series may not have ended the way England's head coach desired in terms of results, but each of the three losses had positives to be taken from them, and more months of learning—and progress, Lancaster will be hoping—lie ahead.