England 38 New Zealand 21: All Blacks stunned as Farrell inspires shock win

England's Chris Ashton dives in for a try during the QBE International at Twickenham Stadium. (Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire)
England's Chris Ashton dives in for a try during the QBE International at Twickenham Stadium. (Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire)
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Suddenly, all that lingering worry about the World Cup seedings has disappeared, probably straight into the din of a disbelieving Twickenham crowd.

Before Saturday’s stunning destruction – and that is by no means an overstatement – of New Zealand, even the most optimistic England fan must have had genuine concerns about today’s draw for the 2015 World Cup.

Narrow losses against Australia and South Africa in the previous fortnight meant they had drifted into the second tier of seedings and, subsequently, opened up the worrying possibility of facing a group of death including both the All Blacks and Wales.

You could almost sense a foreboding uneasiness among the organising body England Rugby 2015; imagine the embarrassment if the host nation failed to even progress from the group stages?

Yet this morning, the bullish call will be ‘Bring it on. All of it. Anybody.’

That’s what happens when you have just conquered the world champions, a side who many people have been debating could be the greatest XV of all time.

Moreover, given the utterly convincing fashion in which this rugby lesson was handed out – England dominated up front and showed most panache behind – you are well within your rights to feel confident.

Now, instead of the Red Rose holding their breath, there could be a few nervous top seeds in London this afternoon all hoping to avoid this youthful squad which may peak nicely in three years’ time.

In fairness, Stuart Lancaster’s side did not look far off the finished article at the weekend as they systematically picked apart their bemused opponents and ruthlessly wrecked a 20-game unbeaten run.

Fans had arrived hoping simply for a genuine contest and for the home side not to be embarrassed in any way by an imperious ensemble who began the last game of their unbeaten year as 12-1 on favourites.

England, meanwhile, needed to show they had at least developed over this autumn period and leave supporters content that the work in progress would perhaps bring dividends in next season’s Six Nations.

Yet they departed after witnessing one of the great England wins of all time and will forever fondly recall a remarkable second-half blitz in which the voracious hosts brilliantly scored three tries in just seven crazy minutes.

That golden period will go down in the annals at HQ but not just for its prolific nature, more its importance at such a crucial stage of the match.

England – stronger, craftier and far more accurate than their nervy guests – had opened up a 15-0 lead early in the second half courtesy of Owen Farrell’s boot, each successful kick giving the crowd further encouragement that a miracle could be on the cards.

England’s resolute defence meant it was also the first time since 1998 New Zealand had been kept scoreless in a first half.

However, in the space of three quickfire minutes, the All Blacks awoke from their slumber showing all the customary zeal and sleight of hand to which we are more accustomed to post two tries through Julian Savea and Kieran Read.

Dan Carter, who had bizarrely missed two simple penalties in the first period, also found his range converting both and suddenly the score was just 15-14 with around half an hour to go.

At that stage, everyone – aside from those inside the England camp – must have envisaged only one winner; the All Blacks would move smoothly through the gears leaving England brave but bereft of victory once more.

Yet just the opposite materialised. First, Brad Barritt surged through a yawning gap and exchanged passes with centre partner Manu Tuilagi to notch his first international try.

Then Tuilagi left Carter in his slipstream, charging through midfield chewing up All Blacks defenders like they were Black Magic chocolates before sending Chris Ashton gleefully to the line to finally end the winger’s 11-game try-drought.

But, still, there was more as Tuilagi, fittingly, intercepted after further pressuring the New Zealand attack and strolled in from halfway.

All that self-belief that England had talked about, despite their frustrating autumn, was clearly now evident, coming to the surface in iridescent style.

Freddie Burns came on and slotted two penalties on his England debut, meaning Savea’s second try was nothing more than a consolation.

Farrell, meanwhile, had been derided by many for his surreal nomination as IRB World Player of the Year in the build-up to the game but he showed his talent here.

He offered his usual excellent kicking and defence but also delivered his most impressive attacking display yet.

“Owen’s gone head-to-head with Dan Carter and probably come out on top,” offered Lancaster.

There was no ‘probably’ about it yet, to a man, England outperformed their opposite number and this autumn series has certainly unearthed some real positives in the shape of cultured full-back Alex Goode, winger Mike Brown – who continually shows an ability to beat the first man – and young lock Joe Launchbury.

Considering Lancaster will be able to call upon eminent players like Ben Foden, Tom Croft and Dylan Hartley in the spring, who all missed these fixtures through injury, and suddenly things are shaping up nicely.


England: Goode; Ashton, Tuilagi (Joseph 66), Barritt, Brown; Farrell (Burns 64), B Youngs (Care 68); Corbisiero (Vunipola 66), T Youngs (Paice 72), Cole (Wilson 72), Launchbury (Lawes 66), Parling, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan (Haskell 57).

New Zealand: Dagg (B Smith 71); Jane, C Smith, Nonu, Savea; Carter (Cruden 64), A Smith (Weepu 64); Woodcock (Crockettn66), Mealamu (Coles 62), Franks (Faumuina 52), Retallick (Romano 48), Whitelock, Messam (Vito 63), McCaw, Read.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).