Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen after being beaten by
England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
The All Blacks have taken their 38-21 defeat on the chin,
accepting that their 20-game unbeaten streak was brought to an
end by an England side that deserved their win.
There were no excuses from the All Blacks - no mention of
fatigue or dramas with a virus during the week: nope, there
was none of that, just simple acknowledgement that they were
beaten by a better side on the day.
"I would just like to congratulate England on a tremendous
performance," said All Black coach Steve Hansen.
"They thoroughly enjoyed their victory today and they should
be very proud of what they achieved. They played some
magnificent football. At 15-14 we certainly asked questions
of them and they responded as a good team. We don't have an
excuse - we just got beaten by a better side."
The tough part for the All Blacks was that they did indeed
appear to be on track to rescuing the game after scoring two
quick tries after half-time to haul themselves back to 15-14.
They had been guilty of too much east-to-west rugby in the
first half as well and being a little sloppy and loose.
But after Julian Savea banged over in the corner and then
Kieran Read followed just three minutes after, the momentum
was with the All Blacks. How many times have we seen them in
recent seasons turn the screw on the back of quick tries and
change the complexion of the game?
The Twickenham faithful were braced for the onslaught -
almost resigned that the bubble would be burst. Instead,
England scored a breakaway try after busting down the left
and then another three minutes later. With 17 minutes
remaining the All Blacks were still a chance at 25-14, but
they forced the game, lacked a touch of composure.
"The key thing I was thinking was that we need to take
control here," said Hansen about the period just after the
All Blacks had scored their second try. "I think we might
have missed a kick off and made a mistake and we certainly
made a defensive mistake on the far side which really
punished us and then their next try was off our own mistake.
We had free-kick and tapped it - we didn't need to tap it.
But when things don't go your way you end up making decisions
that are not quite right.
"I don't know that we played well. But were we allowed to?
I'm disappointed, but that is the game and you have to accept
it. We had 80 minutes to do our best and on this occasion we
got beaten by a side that was better than us."
The hurt was obvious - both Hansen and captain Richie McCaw
wanted to end the season with a quality performance and
preferably a victory. The fact they didn't makes it a little
hard to remember that they still had an outstanding season -
something Hansen was keen to make mention of.
"To my own side I'm very proud of what they have achieved - I
know they have fallen over today - but I think once we get
over the disappointment, they should be able to reflect on
what they have done [all season] and they have done very
"We have introduced nine outstanding rookies who have played
very well. The senior guys have played well and it has been a
good year for the All Blacks."
- Gregor Paul