All Blacks triumph at Twickenham - Rupert Bates
England 16 New Zealand 26
Pace, poise and precision were the differences between the two sides. England rallied strongly in the second-half, with the front-row to the fore dominating the scrums, but crucial errors and penalty concessions cost them the match, despite blunting an All Blacks side, who went off the boil after the sharpest of starts at Twickenham.
Maori wing Hosea Gear touched down for the game’s first try a heartbeat before his leg hit touch, after a lovely offload in the build up from debutant All Blacks centre and rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams.
No 8 Kieran Read with a second try and the unerring boot of Dan Carter stretched New Zealand’s lead and the All Blacks were really outflanking a narrow England defence in the wide channels with Carter ghosting through gaps and Gear a powerhouse threat.
It was 17-3 at half-time and England supporters feared the worst. But England props Andrew Sheridan and Dan Cole had their opposite numbers on toast and when Rotorua-born Dylan Hartley was introduced at hooker, he bought his fiery dynamism to proceedings and blasted over for England's only try, although it had more than a hint of a double movement.
Lock Dave Attwood, born in Bristol but now with Gloucester and Hendre Fourie, raised on a farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, both came on in the second half for their England debuts and both made their mark.
There are few sides at fit as the All Blacks, but England, with the outstanding Harlequins no 8 Nick Easter carrying with strength and purpose and Northampton pair Ben Foden and Chris Ashton sharp of feet and mind, finished far stronger, with bags of ambition and effort, but lacking that poise and precision.
Shontayne Hape, once a New Zealand rugby league team-mate of All Black Williams, was just thwarted in the corner when England had to score to set up a grandstand finish.
New Zealand had the threats where England expected them to come from, but their most impressive players, with huge work-rate in the tight and loose, were their unsung second-row pair of Brad Thorn, 35, and Sam Whitelock, just 22 and just over 24 hours after his elder brother George Whitelock lifted the ITM Cup as captain of Canterbury.
Next up for New Zealand is Scotland in Edinburgh, while England meet the Wallabies at Twickenham.
Pens: Flood 3
Tries: Gear, Read
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 4