New Zealand v England: Score and Lessons Learned from Hamilton Test
England suffered a third straight defeat with a 36-13 reverse to the All Blacks in Hamilton.
Stuart Lancaster’s men were blown away by 29 New Zealand points and four tries in the first half that rendered their second half improvement redundant.
Doubles from Julian Savea and Aaron Smith exposed defensive lapses in the Red Rose rearguard that had not existed in the first two Tests, and they ended the match as a contest before half-time.
Marland Yarde barged over to add a speck of respectability to the score in the second half but a string of botched chances left England with much to regret about that first half display.
Here are the harsh lessons learned.
You Can’t Defend Narrow Against New Zealand
New Zealand got outside England at will in the opening 20 minutes of the contest, simply because England’s defenders got sucked in to defend the midfield and left horrible mismatches out wide that were twice exploited by Julian Savea.
It was schoolboy defending easily picked apart by a side of the quality of New Zealand.
You Can’t Fall off Tackles Against New Zealand
Marland Yarde and Freddie Burns both missed tackles on Cory Jane and Ben Smith, respectively, that led to a try on both occasions for Aaron Smith.
At this level, you are likely to suffer if you fall off tackles when opponents change direction.
If you do it against the All Blacks, it is a cast iron guarantee.
Centre Pairing Did Not Work
As an attacking force, England didn’t have enough ball for us to judge whether Manu Tuilagi and Kyle Eastmond could have posed a threat.
But we did see that as a pair their defensive work was appalling. They left holes for the All Blacks to expose in between them.
Stuart Lancaster had seen enough by half-time and inserted Luther Burrell in Eastmond’s place. That experiment seems dead in the water.
Cutting Edge Makes the Difference
England were mauled by the rapier-like attack of New Zealand in that first half, but for most of the second half they had the ball and the field position to score tries against the hosts.
They battered away but lacked the skill and poise to find a way over the line. In stark contrast, the All Blacks broke free just once in that second 40 minutes and took their chance.