Originally published by NZNewsUK.
The All Blacks snatched victory from England to win 24 to 21 at Twickenham, in a game that was too close to call at times – some would say even by the referee.
Playing the hosts on their home turf has never been an easy task for the New Zealanders, and this occasion proved no different. The boys in black had not only an England team in great form to contend with, but also the ever-increasing spirit of their fans. Predictably, the England faithful deployed their strategy of “making the All Blacks dance to Sweet Chariot” (sung loudly over the top of the haka) – but the world champions appeared unfazed and delivered a powerful performance that made up in physicality for what could not be heard over “Swing Low…”
England reminded New Zealand that they are a force to be reckoned with however, with an early try from Jonny May within minutes of kick off. Aaron Cruden rewarded the Kiwis with one to follow, however a number of missed kicks paired with penalty triumphs in England’s favour ensured that the hosts dominated the first half and secured a 3-point lead into the interval.
The All Blacks were back with a vengeance in the second half, with tries from Richie McCaw and Charlie Faumuina. It was not an easy win, however – New Zealand survived both the sin-binning of Dane Coles in the second half, as well as a late penalty try for England.
The game was not without controversy. Dane Coles’ yellow card in itself was controversial, with referee Nigel Owens seemingly going against the recommendation of the TMO. Owens then appeared flustered as he requested to watch several replays of Charlie Faumuina’s try – even though it had already been awarded. The Welsh referee was subject to criticism from both sides throughout the match as he made a number of other controversial calls which were met with roars of disproval from the stands and some of the men on the field. In his defence, he appeared to only be requesting multiple replays in response to spectator anger resulting from replays that were shown. The issue of a television producer calling the shots on which plays should be replayed on the big screens and which should not was back on the table.
When asked if he thought that TMOs were becoming too much of a problem, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen diplomatically responded: “My biggest concern isn’t the TMOs and the refs… My biggest concern is that TV producers are starting to have a big influence on games. We don’t need the TV producer to replay it 100 times – that’s not in the spirit of our game. Referees will make mistakes just like players. Some of those mistakes will cost you the game, but you live with it because another day you get the rub of the green.”
Captain Richie McCaw was named Man of the Match in front of a record Twickenham crowd of 82,223 spectators. The turnout and the excitement around this match bodes well as England heads towards hosting the World Cup next year.
Charlotte Everett is both London Editor and a freelance journalist for NZNewsUK. Article may only be re-used with permission.