England blown away in Hamilton as New Zealand complete whitewash
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SportsPaulH
Last Updated: 21/06/14 8:26pm
New Zealand completed a series whitewash over England with a devastating first half blitz doing the damage in a 36-13 victory in Hamilton.
The All Blacks had been narrow winners in the first two Tests, but there was a huge gap between the two sides in the first 40 minutes as they ripped England apart at will when running in four tries as they equalled their own world record of 17 Test wins on the spin.
Julian Savea and Aaron Smith ran in two tries each as England’s defence was left floundering in a game when the tourists were supposed to have more to play for after a couple of positive performances in defeat over the last two weeks.
This game was a real reminder of how big the gap is between the two teams though, even if England produced a hugely improved display in the second half but it’s hard to say if that was more down to the hosts taking their foot off the gas.
Marland Yarde scored England’s only try as they tried to rescue some pride at the start of the second half, but even then they could not add to that and New Zealand had the final word with Savea completing his hat-trick on the last play of the game.
It started badly for England with Freddie Burns sending the opening kick-off straight into touch on the full, and he then missed a pretty straightforward if lengthy penalty from 45 metres out to settle the nerves.
A nervy start became an awful one as New Zealand crossed for a try after just four minutes with a flowing attacking move that caught England out and sent Savea over down the left wing after he’d ran over Mike Brown.
Burns responded with a simple penalty but the All Blacks had sensed all was not right in the England defence and a second try came on ten minutes in similar fashion to the first – profiting off a narrow England defence.
A lineout on the right was spun left, and Savea this time did brilliantly to scoop up a long Cruden pass on the half volley off a slippery wet turf before dancing inside for his second try of the night.
Savea flew over for a hat-trick soon after, but that score was pulled back by the referee for a forward pass in the build-up, before Cruden and Burns traded penalties to leave it at 15-6.
Despite such a poor start England still had a chance, but the task was made even more difficult when Billy Vunipola was shown a yellow card for a high tackle, and had to battle with 14 men for the third time in this three-Test series.
Even with 15 the All Blacks would be hard to stop in this mood, and a third try duly came just before the half hour mark when Cory Jane raced down the right wing and fed scrum-half Smith for his first score of the night.
Smith then doubled his tally six minutes before the break after Ben Smith’s dummy was bitten on hard by Yarde and he easily fed his namesake to make it 29-6 at the half.
Second half response
With no doubt their ears still ringing from Stuart Lancaster’s half time message, England emerged a different team and caught the All Blacks cold with a try just four minutes after the restart when Yarde dived over from close range after Ben Youngs set up the break.
Yarde, who looked a different player after enduring a shocking first half, almost went over again just a couple of minutes later but he was held up after bundling his way over the line.
New Zealand may have taken their foot off the gas, but they still had spells of pressure even if England managed to see them off, and as the half wore on the home side’s frustration grew - Wyatt Crockett was yellow carded late on for persistent infringements.
Danny Cipriani also made another good impact off the bench for the final 20 minutes, and overall a much brighter and sharper England restored some sort of pride, even though they failed to add to their only try of the night.
New Zealand had the final say though, with Savea completing his hat-trick after the final siren had sounded as they proved again to be a class above and give Lancaster plenty of food for thought on the plane home.