English press hail ABs' demolition job
England's rugby media have hailed All Black wing Julian Savea and derided their team's defence in equal measures following the touring side's third test capitulation in Hamilton.
The 36-13 loss completed a 3-0 series clean sweep for the All Blacks and took the shine off a tour that had promised so much for England coach Stuart Lancaster after strong showings in Auckland and Dunedin.
"The shortest day yielded the longest night for England,'' Mick Cleary wrote in The Telegraph. ''No amount of massaging of the second half, no clutching at the straw that they finished that period on level terms, should mask the reality of a truly shocking opening.''
Of Savea, who scored a hat-trick of tries in Hamilton, Cleary was one of several English scribes to compare his domination of England to the feats of former nemesis Jonah Lomu.
"Savea is proving to be every bit as big a scourge against England as was Jonah Lomu way back when. The left wing has scored eight tries in four matches against them,'' he said.
"England, of course, did make it easy for the All Blacks, waving them through as if they were cops on traffic duty. It was a rout, an embarrassment at times.'' Chris Hewett, of The Independent had an equally blunt assessment of the porous English midfield.
"England made it easy for them and Kyle Eastmond, the inexperienced Bath centre promoted above Billy Twelvetrees for this last hurrah, was the symbol of a wholly uncharacteristic exercise in horizontal pacifism,'' Hewett said.
Savea, he wrote, was a "supremely threatening runner who somehow combines power and elegance in equal measure".
Chris Foy of The Daily Mail described the All Blacks left wing as the "executioner-in-chief'' and suggested the final match thrashing had rendered the tour a failure.
"England were condemned to a Black-wash at the end of a shattering season as a searing first-half blitz from New Zealand left them in a state of disarray and there was no way back.
''England will point to the close results in Auckland and Dunedin as evidence that they have made strides on this trip, but in truth they will fly home with more confusion than clarity.''
Robert Kitson, writing for The Guardian, likened rugby tours to New Zealand to a visit to the dentist.
''Sooner or later a hole will emerge and there is no team quite like the All Blacks for filling them in... Under pressure this young English side are still guilty of repeatedly poor decision-making.
''Whatever the coaching staff told them in the build-up to this Test seemed to go straight in one ear and out the other.''
But there was a word of understanding from former British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan, who likened England's final effort to the flat All Blacks performances of years past on their northern tours.
''This was just a game too far for England. Mentally, emotionally and psychologically,'' he said.
''So I would be pretty upbeat now about England's chances going into the autumn internationals and next year's Rugby World Cup. It is not a time for doom and gloom because of one match. It is so easy to take a game out of context.''
McGeechan said the major difference between the sides was the All Blacks superior ability to quickly reposition in attack.
''One thing which stands out, and is so important, is the speed at which New Zealand reposition.
''If you are beating your opponents into place after each contact, then you dictate the next phase, whether you are defending or attacking.''