Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Patchy All Blacks overcome England

WINNING WAYSAfter a slow start New Zealand produced a 34-point burst to take the game away from England either side of halftime, with fly-half Dan Carter scoring 22 points

AFP , AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s Conrad Smith scores a try against England during their rugby international at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

The All Blacks took another stride toward re-establishing their rugby credibility when they overran England 37-20 at Eden Park yesterday.

But it was a mixed performance as they overcame a slow start to produce a 34-point burst in 25 minutes in the middle stages of the game before wasting several scoring chances as their game lost structure in the final quarter.

After launching their new season with a 21-11 win over Ireland last week, the All Blacks were looking to step up a notch against England, but instead they produced an inconsistent effort that ranged from dazzling to ordinary.

They were rocked at the start when England opened with a ferocious driving game as they tried to exert crucial dominance in the forwards.

It was enough to carry them to a 6-3 lead after the first quarter, but when the All Blacks recovered from that onslaught and found the try line the game was over.

Before a sell-out crowd of 44,000, the All Blacks scored four tries to two, with both England touchdowns going to flying winger Topsy Ojo in his debut Test.

Dan Carter was again the chief contributor to the All Blacks total with 22 points from a try, four conversions and three penalties, landing seven from seven shots at goal.

In the key departments of the game the All Blacks carried too much firepower.

Richie McCaw and Rodney So’oialo were far too influential in the loose for England’s promising pair of Tom Rees and James Haskell to stand out.

The highly vaunted England scrum failed to live up to its reputation as Greg Somerville held his own against the giant Andy Sheridan, while Neemia Tialata dominated Matt Stevens.

As expected, the All Blacks backs had too much strength and pace, with Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith repeatedly cutting through the first line of defense.

But with a surfeit of ball in the second half, scoring opportunities went begging, with ball carriers taking the wrong option, failing to off-load or losing the ball.

England, playing with the wind behind them, hit the All Blacks hard from the kick-off, winning turnover ball and then gaining a penalty as they drove up to the line, but Olly Barkley missed a handy shot at goal.

He was soon to make amends with a 32m penalty when All Blacks prop Greg Somerville was penalized in a ruck.

After Carter leveled with a penalty for the All Blacks, Barkley regained the lead for England with his second penalty in the 20th minute, but that 6-3 lead was as close as they would get as the All Blacks stepped up the pace.

As the All Blacks drove up to the England line from the kick-off, a flat chip kick behind the England line by Carter was snapped up by Smith, who dived over for the first try. Carter followed up with two penalties and a converted try of his own to put the All Blacks ahead 23-6.

On halftime, Carter attempted to put Smith over for a second try when he cut through the England first line of defense, but his pass was intercepted by right wing Ojo, who raced the length of the field to score his first try.

Barkley converted to reduce the All Blacks to a 23-13 lead at the turn.

The All Blacks then piled on 14 more points in the first six minutes of the second half, with two converted tries extending the lead to 37-13.

First Nonu busted through the middle of the England backline to send Mils Muliaina over wide out and then Sitiveni Sivivatu scored after England backrower Luke Narraway dropped the ball when pressured by Carter.

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