Opinion: All Blacks thrashed and they know it
Sunday 2 Dec 2012 5:35 a.m.
Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Conrad Smith dejected after their defeat (Reuters)
An inglorious end to a decent year.
The All Blacks were comprehensively outplayed by England at Twickenham, with a bloke hailing from Samoa doing the damage in the 21-38 defeat.
England were everything the All Blacks had wanted to be - dominating up front and full of attacking zest in the backs.
It was England's first win against the All Blacks since Wellington in 2003 and their first victory at Twickenham since a year earlier, and it was thoroughly deserved.
At times they cut the All Blacks defence to shreds, scoring three tries and winning by their biggest score and margin.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had said in the build-up to the test that losing when you play well was tolerable, but defeat from a poor performance "hacked him off". He'll be plenty hacked off then because this performance was easily the worst by the All Blacks since he became head coach after last year's World Cup.
It was certainly not the way skipper Richie McCaw wanted the year to end before heading away on his six month sabbatical.
Having spent much of the week looking at their dunnies as a stomach bug swept through the team, the All Blacks will have felt queasy heading into the sheds at the break.
They trailed England 0-12 after a first half dominated by wayward aerial ping-pong, All Blacks errors, poor passing, wrong options, and an England side that tackled their hearts out and were productive at the break down. They were also helped by Dan Carter missing two straightforward penalties.
The All Blacks had a few chances but botched them all - wing Cory Jane in front of a Carter attacking cross-kick and halfback Aaron Smith popping up an ineffective kick from a ruck on attack, just two examples.
It looked like more of the same when England first five Owen Farrell kicked a penalty soon after the break to give the All Blacks the challenge of a 0-15 deficit. They responded with the attack finally clicking, Jane surging free down his wing then Julian Savea finishing it off on the other side with his 11th try in his ninth test.
Four minutes later they were over again with No. 8 Kieran Read finishing a good team move, and suddenly England led by just one. It was game-on.
But it was England who again took the game to the All Blacks, second five Brad Barritt scoring after some nifty work by centre Manusamoa Tuilagi.
The powerful and speedy Samoan-born midfielder was a handful all afternoon and it was his break that put wing Chris Ashton in the clear for a try he was celebrating from about 10 metres out as England again had a decent lead - 14-25.
A few minutes later Tuilagi latched on to a Read pass and raced away to score himself, England leading 14-32, before another penalty extended that to 14-35 as Hansen emptied the All Blacks bench.
Another England penalty rubbed salt in the All Blacks wounds that a second try to Savea will have done little to ease.
The sight of replacement loose forward Victor Vito knocking the ball on with the tryline open in the final minutes summed up the All Blacks day.
They'd been out played - thrashed and they knew it.