|England (3) 25|
|Tries: Stuart (2), Steward Disadvantages: Smith (2) Pen: Farrell, Smith|
|New Zealand (17) 25|
|Tries: Papali’i, Taylor, Ioane Disadvantages: J Barrett (2) Pen: J Barrett Fall: B Barrett|
England scored three tries in a stunning final eight minutes to salvage a fine draw after outscoring New Zealand for much of their Autumn Nations Series match at Twickenham.
The All Blacks scored two tries in the opening nine minutes, with Codie Taylor driving on the back of a maul after Dalton Papali’i’s first score.
England hung on at the break and Manu Tuilagi was stopped short with his side trailing 17-6 early in the second half.
When Rieko Ioane ran clear after a wicked diagonal kick from Richie Mo’unga to score a third try, it appeared the tourists were out of sight.
But England – inaccurate and undisciplined at that point – roared back into life in the final 10 minutes as substitute Will Stewart scratched, Freddie Stewart burnt out and Stewart holed again in the final minute.
Such was the belief that ran through Twickenham as England surged forward against a depleted All Blacks, Marcus Smith’s decision to bowl the ball dead in the final game – rather than chase a victory that seemed unthinkable just a quarter of an hour earlier – was hailed. with some disapproval.
It was a surreal end to a strange match that marked both England captain Owen Farrell’s 100th appearance and the first meeting between the two teams since the hosts’ superb semi-final victory at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
And it is unlikely to dispel the questions surrounding the two sides after fragmented seasons a year after France 2023.
New Zealand’s quick start, England’s quick finish
Any hope England had of repeating their fast start in Yokohama evaporated inside the first eight minutes.
First, Papali’i got under the posts after flying off the line at the back of a line-out to smother Jack van Poortvliet’s heavy effort to feed Farrell.
The 21-year-old England scrum-half, making just his third Test start, caught a glimpse of himself on the big screen as the camera cut to him under the posts. It was a moment to test the strength of the most seasoned veteran, never mind a novice.
England sunk deeper into a hole when Taylor curled onto the back of a rolling mule shortly after.
Fourteen points after 10 minutes, Twickenham deflated. Their team could be beaten within 20.
Van Poortvliet was again exposed as Ardie Savea stuck him at the back of a poor staff, forcing a turnover and, after a series of phases, Rieko Ioane dived over.
But as New Zealand lined up with a simple conversion for a 21-0 lead, referee Mathieu Raynal spotted a fade from Ioane.
England got a reprieve and headed into the break on a lucky 17-3 after Farrell and Geordie Barrett exchanged kicks.
Luke Cowan-Dickie won a penalty from the start of the second half to allow Smith to cut the gap to 17-6, before the England fly-half put Tuilagi through a hole with a deft late pass.
However, Tuilagi stopped short, and four minutes later the All Blacks looked to have canceled out the comeback.
Off a turnover, Mo’unga picked off Clarke with an accurate punt. The winger cut inside, stopped the England defense and switched with Ioane to open a clean corner in the corner for the centre.
But England, fighting and thinking for most of the match, came on strong as they emptied the bench and New Zealand ran out of gas.
Stuart’s pair of close scores came either side of a sweeping drive that ended with Steward diving as New Zealand fell from the tackles and failed to close space.
More to come