England 21 New Zealand 24: Twickenham loss for Lancaster’s boys

England beaten at Twickenham.
England beaten at Twickenham.
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New Zealand retain a stranglehold over England after a gritty 24-21 win in monsoon conditions at Twickenham.

The swirling wind and rain made for a bewitching atmosphere but it also helped the experienced All Blacks suck the life out of what in the first half had been a terrific contest.

Stuart Lancaster’s side held sway in the chill autumn air in that first 40 minutes as they set about orchestrating a repeat of their momentous win over the All Blacks two years ago.

That was the first of only two defeats suffered by New Zealand since winning the World Cup on home soil in 2011.

With the next global gathering less than a year away, this is a pivotal autumn series for both, and it was the All Blacks who prevailed thanks to a dominant second half.

Captain marvel Richie McCaw crossed at the start of the second half, and despite missing two of his three kicks at goal, the one penalty Beauden Barrett did score eventually proved decisive.

That was because England - who put in a typically strong forward performance - forced a late penalty try with the power of their scrum.

England had the better of a breathless first half, full of all the ferocious intensity typical of such a contest.

The flair is usually reserved for the All Blacks on these occasions, but it was livewire Jonny May who showed Israel Dagg a clean pair of heels when he scythed through the New Zealand line and danced around the full-back to score a try that got Twickenham rocking.

He would have had a second moments later but for an inopportune bounce.

England were buoyant and another attack came to nothing when Mike Brown was unable to haul in Kyle Eastmond’s pass.

For all their dominance, the threat of the All Blacks was underlined when they charged up the other end and responded with a try.

Jerome Kaino forced his way through and when the ball was recycled, Aaron Cruden scored a try that on first look appeared to have been touched down short.

Farrell and Cruden then shared four penalties as the game calmed down in the second quarter, with England’s stand-off nudging Lancaster’s men into a 14-11 lead at the break with a last-gasp penalty after the quick-thinking Danny Care had charged into the 22.

But England could barely get out of their own half in the second half as the the All Blacks made it 20 wins in a row with a lesson in game-management.

England: Brown, Rokoduguni (Watson 62), Barritt, Eastmond (Ford 65), May, Farrell, Care (Youngs 62); Marler (Mullan 55), Hartley (Webber 74), Wilson (Brookes 74), Attwood, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Vunipola (Morgan 53). Unused replacements: Kruis.

New Zealand: Dagg, B Smith (Crotty 48), C Smith, Williams, Savea, Cruden (Barrett 60), A Smith (Perenara 67); Crockett (B Franks 60), Coles, O Franks (Faumuina 48), Retallick (Tuipulotu 40), Whitelock, Kaino (Messam 67), McCaw, Read. Unused replacements: Mealamu.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).