Playing the game in the right areas of the pitch and according to the conditions
For much of the second half England were bogged down in their own half and could not get out. They failed to take advantage of Dane Coles’s sin-binning, while New Zealand could keep them under pressure. The importance of field position was shown by the fact England failed to score for 39 minutes of the second half.With the rain pelting down, England needed to in New Zealand back and force mistakes by putting them under pressure. Charlie Faumuina’s try was an excellent example of how New Zealand played the conditions so well. They played simple short balls slowly punching holes in the England line before Faumuina capitalised on the quick ball and barrelled over. In contrast England tried to play openly to little avail in the second half, while most of their attempts were in their own half.
The pack will be great
Realistically England were missing their first choice props, in Alex Corbisiero and Dan Cole, one of their first choice locks, Joe Launchbury, and soon their other first choice lock in Courtney Lawes, yet still dominated in the scrum. Billy Vunipola carried well, as did the ever consistent captain Chris Robshaw, while George Kruis adds to the greater strength in depth England can call upon in the second row.
Eastmond can defend
After Kyle Eastmond and Manu Tuilagi were torn open in the summer many doubted Eastmond’s defensive abilities but it was only after he was substituted that Sonny Bill Williams scythed through the middle. Eastmond has to continue to start at 12 if his defence remains consistent as his attacking threat is clear when he created what should have been a run in for Mike Brown. I still believe Tuilagi would start over Barritt when fit, while Barritt found himself on the wrong end of Savea a couple of times, the centre partnership was solid in defence, while Eastmond provided a spark in attack.
Wing places still up for grabs?
Semesa Rokoduguni had the tough task of keeping Julian Savea quiet on his England debut and he did it to great merit. So good was England’s defence on Savea he was shunted into touch, a rare sight against the monstrous Kiwi. Yet, the conditions were not made for wingers in the second half and Rokoduguni barely saw the ball, so hopefully he will get that chance next week against the Springboks. Jonny May was the wing with the biggest question mark over his selection in the run up to the game but he proved all the doubters wrong, delivering a scintillating try that few could with such sheer pace. Both wings definitely deserve their places next week and hopefully May can continue from where he left off and Rokoduguni can get his mighty Fijian mits on the ball a bit more.
England still need to be ruthless
England should have been two tries up within the first twenty minutes. That is simply fact. In the same position the All Blacks would have been and that would have been the game gone. Owen Farrell missed the chance of a drop goal that would have kept the scoreboard ticking over. Still they went into half time leading and failed to play a game that allowed them to defend the lead. You always had to expect New Zealand to come out like a bull to a red rag, but it was more the fact England failed to create any scoring opportunities until the final minutes of the game that is the bigger concern.
All in all England gave the All Blacks a tough game. A game they could have won, but like in the First two tests they were close but not close enough. This time though the All Blacks had the advantage of having played the whole rugby championship together, gaining experience and match fitness against an England side with an untried centre partnership and a debutant on the wing. Nonetheless, England have come close against the All Blacks for the last 2 years, but have lacked the ruthless edge to grind out a victory. England have been the nearly men against the Southern Hemisphere giants for the past couple of years, slowly improving and becoming more competitive, but rarely winning, now they need to be the victory men.
How do you think England fared against the All Blacks?