Saturday, November 29, 2008

All Blacks triumph at Twickenham - 30/11/2008

It was mission completed for the All Blacks with a 32-6 win over England at Twickenham to claim the Hillary Shield and complete a third Grand Slam to end its tour of Britain without having conceded a try to the four Home Nations.England did nothing to help its cause when having four players sin-binned at various stages of the game and it could be thankful that first five-eighths Dan Carter had an off day with the boot, despite his 17-point haul, and achieving 200 Test points during the season.But it was a successful culmination of pressure sustained throughout the first three-quarters that saw three tries in quick succession, two of them to fullback Mils Muliaina, that allowed the All Blacks to claim the victory.

While the 57th minute destruction of an England scrum finally broke the home resistance to allow the first try, it was indicative of the pressure mounted earlier in the game.Heading the way in contributing to that effort was an inspirational effort from halfback Jimmy Cowan. He was relentless in applying pressure, running from the base and scrapping for the ball throughout in his best game in an All Blacks' jersey.Hooker Keven Mealamu was another to show the advantage of consistently starting for the side in the absence of Andrew Hore and his work in setting up second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu's try typified his game.

It took a long time for the game to achieve any continuity as referee Alain Rolland whistled a penalty symphony, largely at England's expense.It was a penalty ridden first half and Carter was able to take advantage to land penalty goals in the 15th, 27th, 33rd and 37th minutes, although he missed two other attempts while Jamie Flood landed a 17th minute penalty goal for England.The first half penalty count favoured New Zealand 10-5 and represented an ill-disciplined approach by the home team desperate to put its rout by South Africa behind it. The final penalty count was 16-8.

The ill-discipline was further demonstrated with England having hooker Lee Mears and flanker James Haskell each being sin-binned, with a slight overlap leaving England with only 13 men on the field.England made a superb start to the second half when running the All Blacks short kick-off right back down field and it was only a desperate ankle tap by Muliaina that denied No.8 Nick Easter a try.

England pounded the All Blacks line but magnificent defence denied it any openings from pick and goes around the ruck and then when it tried to move the ball through its backs. In running the ball out from the line Cowan was taken in a head high tackle by Flood who was promptly sin-binned.Rain made handling difficult and with Flood off the field a penalty conceded by the All Blacks resulted in fullback Delon Armitage landing a handy shot at goal to get England back to 6-12.Carter had another shot miss the mark in the 50th minute, but it was a fine-placed kick to the corner that opened up a lineout chance for the All Blacks 15m from the England line but in moving the ball across the field, lock Ali Williams was penalised for holding onto the ball.

England had a chance to build another attack but flanker Michael Lipman dropped the ball. At the resulting scrum, So'oialo fed Cowan and he raced into a gap and fed Nonu who broke strongly downfield and into England's 22. However, Brad Thorn dropped the ball and the scrum was called.But any disadvantage was immediately rectified by a powerhouse All Blacks scrum which rocked England and it was Cowan who flicked the ball out to the backline where centre Conrad Smith tidied, fed Nonu who doubled around, and then passed to wing Joe Rokocoko and he quickly provided Muliaina with a run at the line.

He made no mistake in the 57th minute to score his 23rd try for the All Blacks.Five minutes later Carter landed his fifth penalty goal which also registered 200 Test points for New Zealand in 2008.It was Carter again, with a break to drive into a tackle and set up of a series of ruck which then opened up for Carter to deftly place a kick-pass to the corner where Muliaina again pulled it in to score in the 65th minute.New Zealand went back onto the attack as Muliaina chased a kick downfield and was only denied his hat-trick by a cruel bounce which allowed England to touch down, although a five-metre scrum went to New Zealand.

However, it couldn't clear the ball and England won some respite, albeit temporary.Prop Tim Payne ran onto tapped ball at an England free kick but he was robbed of the ball in the tackle by Williams. The ball was flicked wide where Mealamu ran like a midfield back into space, fed wing Sitiveni Sivivatu who then found Nonu who raced 60 metres to score and with Carter's conversion the All Blacks led 32-6.England didn't help its cause when flanker Tom Rees was sin-binned leaving it to finish the game with 14 men.

Scorers:New Zealand 32 (Mils Muliaina 2, Ma'a Nonu tries; Dan Carter con, 5 pen) England 6 ( Toby Flood pen, Delon Armitage pen). HT: 12-3

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