The three Lions knew that they were in for quite a challenge against New Zealand when the two teams met this week. The All Blacks are a formidable opponent and they ride a lengthy winning streak, so it came as no surprise that England was credited with the second chance to win. The series didn’t start well for the English side who lost the first two games and was on the verge of suffering yet another sweep.
What was regarded by many pundits as inevitable happened, with New Zealand in complete control and in less than 40 min. the fate of the match was decided. England had its fair share of injury concerns and had to do without some key players, but even if they were at full strength, the All Blacks would’ve probably prevailed. New Zealand played brilliantly in the first half while their opponents struggled heavily, which explains how it was possible for them to build up such a commanding lead by half time.
England created very few scoring opportunities and even when they had the chance to add some points on the scoring board, they missed out. Stuart Lancaster’s team played with a sense of urgency in the next half but the offensive was rather toothless and New Zealand countered them on multiple levels. Ben Youngs was one of the few bright spots in their rotation and he met expectations by exercising constant pressure on the All Blacks. Unfortunately his efforts were not enough to turn the tide and England never came within striking distance of their opponents.
Savea had a good chance to score a hat trick, but in the end he had to settle for less, but what truly matters is that New Zealand played its a-game. English players didn’t look fit to play 60 min. at the same level and fatigue is just one of the reasons for why they failed to put up a convincing fight. The players gave everything on the pitch, but sadly for them that was not enough to hold New Zealand in its tracks and something needs to change radically before the world championship.
Interesting enough, the All Blacks still have a couple of things to fix and it is only fair to say that despite the crushing victory, they didn’t play their best rugby. If they do, it will be virtually impossible for any team to win against him and New Zealand’s dominance is very likely to continue.