21 June 2008

All Blacks depth pays big dividend

England has been sent home with a 44-12 thrashing by the superior class of the All Blacks at AMI Stadium on Saturday night.

Clinical finishing was the difference between the two sides, especially in the first half as possession was shared 50/50 but the All Blacks made theirs count to lead 20-0.

Starting with a penalty in the first minute, first five-eighth Dan Carter laid on another masterclass and once again exposed England's brittle defence.

The tourists switched their No.10 and 12 stocks but it made little difference when Carter waltzed through and fed centre Richard Kahui on the angle for a try just 14 minutes into a dream debut.

Carter added another penalty to make it 13-0, then crossed for a deserved five-pointer to extend it by another seven.

England's defence was embarrassed once more as halfback Andrew Ellis' cut-out ball found Carter in miles of space for an easy stroll to the line.

Carter had almost scored seconds earlier when held up off a deft chip and regather.

The only concern came as both captain Richie McCaw and Ali Williams left the field in the first half with ankle injuries, McCaw's seeming particularly serious.

Conversely, the tourists squandered chances, consistently infringed at the breakdown and were their own worst enemies.

Halfback Danny Care put in a needless chip kick when 10m out early on, wing Tom Varndell should've scored in the corner but was bundled out by Leon MacDonald and Mathew Tait's butter fingers prevented him diving on an Ellis error close to the line.

It didn't get any better straight after the break when replacement Ollie Barkley missed a simple chance to put England on the board, then Carter made no mistake with one of his own.

Care took it upon himself to put England back in the contest and did so when he took a quick tap, ran across field and managed to squeeze through a gap at the corner to score his first Test try and narrow the gap to 23-7.

Almost immediately, the All Blacks hit back and delivered a hammer blow to England's temporarily positive demeanour.

Carter found wing Sitiveni Sivivatu back on the angle and he burst through more feeble English defence then sent second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu next to the posts.
England was left forced to play with 14 men as centre Mike Tindall was given a yellow card for killing the ball near his own line.

The All Blacks made it count straight away as Sione Lauaki scored their fourth try by picking off the back of a scrum and powering through for a 37-7 scoreline.

A borderline forward pass by wing Rudi Wulf, who was quiet on debut, led to England's second as Care was again involved and freed up Varndell to score on his opposite side with just over 10 minutes to go.

Two more contentious calls followed as firstly Sivivatu was denied by another supposed forward pass then Adam Thomson's dot-down was denied by a baffling ruling that Keven Mealamu had taken Varndell out in the air.

But Jimmy Cowan wasn't to be denied in the final minute as he wriggled over to complete the 44-12 hiding and send England back north with its tail between its legs.

It was a promising All Black performance leading into next month Tri Nations opener, although South Africa and Australia will be made of sterner stuff than the limp English.

New Zealand 44 (Richard Kahui, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Sione Lauaki, Jimmy Cowan tries; Carter 4 con, 3 pen; Stephen Donald con) England 12 (Danny Care, Tom Varndell tries; Olly Barkley con). HT: 20-0

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