All Blacks 36 – 13 England
I have a theory.
Last night in Hamilton was the opening match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Why else would an ABs team that has just played 80 minutes of furiously fast footie and is comfortably ahead on the scoreboard, not kick the pill into the stands at the very first opportunity and head for the showers? Instead this team scrambled to turn over possession and then engineered a marvellous, risky little interchange down the blind side to score a final pointless worthless and very important try.
That was simply about making a statement to the England team (and anybody else watching) about intent. This is our game, our trophy, and you’ll have to pry it out of our cold dead fingers.
The first half performance by the ABs was stunning. Perhaps it was aided by an English defence that was astonishingly AWOL at time, but then you could argue that that appearance was engineered by the ABs’ swift and sure ball movement.
This England coach, Stuart Lancaster, clearly has some real ability: he sent his team back on to the park with extra urgency and a better plan. As a result it was a much more contested second half, and the ABs didn’t achieve the complete dominance of earlier. But, and yet, and so what. The faces of the England players at the end told the story. They knew they had been not just beaten, but put firmly in their place..
A couple of images from the game to hold in your hearts, both involving Julian Savea. First, is the way that he hunted and scurried and thrust Marland Yarde into touch when Yarde had looked for all money to be free away to score. Second, was when Savea bumped off Chris Ashton and immediately moved forward into the next contact. Both moments spoke of pride and intent.
Both moments were about establishing the pecking order in the play ground.Embed from Getty Images