English media heap praise on the All Blacks
England’s media have scooped no shortage of praise on the All Blacks following last night’s 28-27 victory, but are optimistic about the progress Stuart Lancaster’s side are making ahead of next year’s World Cup.
The defeat means New Zealand has taken an unassailable lead in the three-test series and today travel to Hamilton hoping to complete a whitewash next Saturday night.
Having led 10-6 at halftime the tourists failed to contain the All Blacks who scored three tries in a frantic second spell at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
‘‘This may have lacked the ferocity and strain of a World Cup showdown, but to rally in New Zealand, reduce the losing margin to a single point and have the breath to say how disappointed they were to have lost the game and the series gave this encounter real value,’’ wrote The Guardian’s Eddie Butler.
‘‘If the brain can cope with all that, then it should be able to sort out saying no to the risky pass and yes to keeping an eye on the ball.’’
Many of the British press singled out All Blacks fullback Ben Smith as the player of the match and then noted that England, who former coach Clive Woodward predicted were going to get walloped because they were being sent on the ‘‘tour from hell’’, should be well satisfied with their performance in the first two tests.
The Guardian’s Robert Kitson praised his countrymen’s willingness to keep engaging the All Blacks in the battle.
‘‘At least this series has not been as black and white as many of its predecessors,’’ Kitson wrote.
‘‘This was another memorable contest from a neutral perspective, the pre-match choral renditions of Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem adding to the sense of occasion. The All Blacks even dusted down their extended, most serious-looking haka prior to kick-off, always a sign of genuine respect.
‘‘They have now won 16 Test matches in a row, one short of equalling the world record for a major international nation, and are not the world’s best team by luck. Knocking them off that lofty perch, particularly on Kiwi soil, remains the game’s ultimate challenge.’’
The Independent’s Chris Hewett was impressed by England’s competitiveness but lamented their inability to keep the New Zealanders’ dangerous ball runners caged in the second half.
‘‘If hell does not exist, there is always the South Island of New Zealand on a cold winter’s night with the All Blacks in the mood for blood,’’ Hewett reflected.
‘‘The scoreline may suggest that England are inching ever closer to the world champions – a five-point defeat in Auckland in the opening Test of this series, a one-point heartbreaker yesterday – but while they are not a million miles away, this was a more clear-cut victory for Richie McCaw and his silver-ferned compatriots, who played their most brilliant rugby when the game was in the balance.’’
Given their impressive bench, England hoped to finish strongly. But Ian Robertson, the BBC’s rugby correspondent, questioned why Lancaster didn’t give those players more minutes.
‘‘I would have expected Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola to come on very early in the second half. It was almost 20 minutes in before they actually came on. In that time, Julian Savea and Ben Smith scored tries.
‘‘Had that trio been on at the start of the second half and in control of the forward play, it might not have resulted in those two tries."