England come up just short against New Zealand
All Blacks clinch series as England fight back is too little too late
Richie McCaw celebrates with his New Zealand teammates after their win over England. Photograph: Martin Hunter/Getty Images
New Zealand exploded for three tries in the second half to beat England 28-27 in their second test in Dunedin and clinch their three-match series with a match to play.
Fullback Ben Smith, who produced a brilliant try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi in the first half, Julian Savea and Ma’a Nonu all crossed for the home side in the second spell after they had been 10-6 down at half-time following a furious start by the visitors.
Outhalf Aaron Cruden slotted a conversion and two penalties, while his replacement Beauden Barrett added a conversion and a penalty for the home side who now have an 16-match unbeaten streak.
Winger Marland Yarde, fullback Mike Brown and Chris Ashton scored tries for England, while Owen Farrell, who was sinbinned for a professional foul midway through the second half, slotted three conversions and two penalties.
The All Blacks are now unbeaten in 32 tests in New Zealand, a run stretching back almost five years and have won 28 of their 30 internationals since they clinched their second World Cup in 2011.
They had bumbled to a 20-15 victory in the first game at Eden Park last week and been under pressure from coach Steve Hansen and captain Richie McCaw to lift their performance under the roof in Dunedin.
Both, however, would have been ruing their side’s start with all of England’s first half points came in a blistering opening 10 minutes when they denied the All Blacks the ball and the home side fell foul of referee Jaco Peyper, which allowed the visitors to kick downfield for attacking lineouts.
“There was a lot of energy in that first 10 when a couple of mistakes put us under the pump,” All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said of an early Farrell penalty and Yarde’s converted try.
“We started to slowly get into the game late in the first half and had some momentum into the second half and getting points early put us in control of the game.”
The All Blacks were kept in the match with two first half penalties to Cruden before they exploded in the second.
Fullback Smith finished off a breathtaking counter-attack from 80 metres out before Savea went over in the corner to cap off a 12-point scoring burst inside five minutes.
Nonu grabbed the third try when Farrell was in the sinbin.
Brown scored inside the final 10 minutes to keep England within sight, but by the time Ashton scored his try in the final minute the game was over and only made the scoreline look closer than the match was.
“We showed glimpses,” England captain Chris Robshaw said. “We finished really strongly and started really strongly (but)...we lost just a little bit of control in the second half early on where we couldn’t get hold of the ball.
“It’s a results based industry and we have to look at two losses and have lost the series now (but) ...we have come a long way in the last couple of weeks and hopefully we will get better.”
Hamilton hosts the third and final test next Saturday.