Dreams of an unbeaten season were extinguished in seven minutes of English magic at Twickenham today where the home side bullied the All Blacks to an historic 38-21win.
Steve Hansen's hopes of a perfect end to the year were dashed when England scored three rapid fire second half tries to Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi between the 54th and 61st minute.
It was an astonishing melt-down from an All Blacks side that seemed to hit the wall after a week that saw most of the squad struck down with a bug.
They will feel sick that they let their guard down at the final hurdle of 2012.
Credit has to go mainly to England, who presented by far the most physical challenge Richie McCaw's men have faced this season and thoroughly deserved their first win over the All Blacks since 2003.
And to young first five-eighth Owen Farrell who showed everyone why he was nominated for the IRB player of the year award by kicking five penalties and a drop goal in a composed display.
It was in stark contrast to opposite Dan Carter, who was strangely off is game and his kicking missing two first half penalties as England built a 12-0 lead by halftime.
But, while England laid the foundations in the first half, this match was decided after the break during a flurry of scoring.
It appeared the All Blacks had finally found some rhythm when Cory Jane produced a series of memorable moments of skill to create tries for Juilan Savea then Kieran Read. Suddenly it was a one-point game, but England's response was emphatic.
Second five eighth Barritt got outside Read and scored after a nice interchange of passes with Tuilagi.
Then Tuilagi fended off Carter after a lineout win and put wing Chris Ashton over, his swan dive making it 25-14 and bring the crowd into the game.
When Tuilagi intercepted Read's pass and jogged 50 metres to the try line the hole was simply too great, even for these All Blacks.
The 80,000-strong Twickenham crowd drowned out the haka with a rousing rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot and the home side responded.
England tore into everything and presented immovable obstacles at the tackle where the All Blacks were struggling to get their clean out right.
McCaw implored referee George Clancy to make England's players roll away, but in truth they were simply standing their ground at the ruck where barrel men like captain Chris Robshaw and prop Alex Corbisiero were slowing the ball.
England's tactic was to kick to the All Blacks and invite them to counter and it was working. Their chase line was enthusiastic, aggressive and accurate and it rattled the All Blacks in a way they have not been this season.
It produced numerous mistakes and Jane was among those to make them early with a poor pass, missed a tackle and kick out on the full.
Halfback Aaron Smith was trying to play a quick game, but knocked off his stride as he had been in Rome.
Jane and Savea looked dangerous and the latter got a consolation try in the second half, his 12th of the season, but mostly the All Blacks could not find space.
There would have been stern words from Hansen at the break. His simple message would have been to start to front physically or lose their unbeaten record.
That didn't happen, meaning the All Blacks post World Cup year will be remembered as a good one, but not a great one.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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