All Blacks clinch series against England

The All Blacks spluttered into life in the second half to hold off England 28-27 in the second Test in Dunedin and clinch their three-Test series.


The mistake-ridden hosts trailed 10-0 after eight minutes and were still down 10-6 at halftime before powering clear with three tries in a decisive third quarter.

They conceded two late tries but were never in danger of losing after skipping 28-13 ahead entering the final 10 minutes.

It was far from a perfect performance from either side, with mistakes prominent despite perfect conditions at the indoor stadium.

As happened in last week’s 20-15 first Test win in Auckland, the All Blacks were squeezed into early errors by the bigger, more-disciplined visitors.

However, they began unfurling their best rugby soon before halftime and broke a tiring English defensive line repeatedly during a thrilling period after the break, crossing through fullback Ben Smith, winger Julian Savea and inside centre Ma’a Nonu.

It was the All Blacks’ 16th successive win and they can move level with the world-record streak for a tier-one nation if successful in the third Test at Hamilton next weekend.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said his team improved considerably in the space of a week despite the tighter final scoreline.

“I don’t think we played as well as we possibly can but, as a group, it was about believing in what we were doing and, eventually, if we stuck with it, it would come right.”

England counterpart Stuart Lancaster was disappointed to cede the Hillary Shield but accepted New Zealand deserved to win.

“We have set ourselves high expectations on this tour but you’ve got some high-quality opposition there,” Lancaster said.

“They’ve had an extra week’s preparation and you could see the improvement in their performance.”

England’s early dominance resulted in a penalty to five-eighth Owen Farrell and his conversion of a try to winger Marland Yarde.

All Blacks No.10 Aaron Cruden responded with penalties in the 12th and 40th minutes, the latter coming after arguably the most important play of the game.

England winger Manu Tuilagi scooped a loose ball and powered 80 metres before being run down five metres out by Smith, who also effected a turnover.

Smith, revelling in the first of his 28 Tests at his favoured fullback position, opened the floodgates soon after halftime, following some slick work from Cruden and Savea.

Savea crossed for his 20th try in 21 Tests shortly afterwards to put the hosts 18-13 clear.

England’s discipline began to unravel, resulting in a yellow card to Farrell in the 60th minute for persistent offending.

Nonu was rewarded for a bright attacking performance with his try when following up a Conrad Smith break.

The tourists finally were able to get some possession and sent fullback Mike Brown across with eight minutes to play and reserve winger Chris Ashton in the final minute to complete an encouraging finish.