Eddie Jones, the England coach, does not usually lavish against the All Blacks in the periods between World Cups. He barely gives them a game the fall before the World Cup to diagnose their state of siege with respect to the Kiwis, and from there he draws the necessary conclusions to then prepare the probable crossover in the World Cup.
So this game at Twickenham was much more than just an autumn game, it was a visit to the dentist. The All Blacks, who had won six of the last eight games against the English, arrived after chaining six victories and shaking off doubts. To start with, the blackboard offered interesting nuances. Jones lined up two ball carriers in the third, with Sam Simmonds of 6 and Billy Vunipola of 8. The idea was simple, distance them to condition the New Zealand defense, who also had a third battering ram to stop in the person of Manu Tuilagi. For this reason, to give rhythm when feeding them, he alienated Van Poortvielt’s speed of 9 at the hinge with a Marcus Smith watched closely by Owen Farrell behind him.
New Zealand was pulling specialists in its first line (De Groot, Taylor and Lomax)three seconds with Scott Barrett in the close of the third adding weight to the Kiwi scrum along with Whitelock and Retallick, centurion today and captain. And aggressiveness on the foot of the scrum with Papali’i supporting Ardie. Behind an interesting team with Aaron and Mounga directing, Jordie with Rieko in midfield, and Beauden armored the airspace with Caleb and Telea on the banks.
The third devours Van Poortvielt
England did not appear at the start. Van Poortvielt was eaten by the third kiwis, who after four minutes stole a flat pass from 9 after a touch to nail a test. Only six later an English blow was launched to the side of the English 22, from where the bad Kiwi ended with Taylor lying on the ingoal local. Every mistake was punished. New Zealand swept the English lead in the set piece and he put wheels in the scrums, in addition to dirtying and fishing balls in the open ones without rest. The southern aggressiveness, both in defense and attack with optimal running lines, crushed an England that he escaped conceding another try (from Rieko) because Beauden overreached cleaning up in the ruck prior to Owen.
At half time the All Blacks were leading 3-17. Possession and territoriality was English, but those in black had covered twice the meters with the ball and their defense was once again a Black Plague that devastated Twickenham. Jones’s plan, “being able to headbutt, why pass the ball”, was leaking on all sides. Van Poortvliet was intimidated by the third rival and Smith corseted by the presence of Farrell. The ball did not go past Manu Tuilagi, thereby disconnecting the back three English.
The second half started with a change of third in the premises. But before that there was a cross kick from Mounga, as notable in the match as Aaron Smith, ended up in the hands of Clarke, who dropped a cross to Rieko, and Horse drove all the way across Twickers to plant the flag on the local staging area without coming across any defender (6-22). Immediately after, at 53 minutes, a disconcerted Van Poortvliet and the English first row (with an overrated Genge and a Sinckler whose trade does not reach him against the Kiwis) withdrew. Another leaving was Tuilagi, frustrated by the ration of double tackles he was given by the New Zealand defense.
Nothing presaged a change of scenery, even though the English replacements brought the aggressiveness to the game that the headlines did not. But the key play of the duel arrived. With the game lost, Marcus Smith unleashed a stampede in the 71st minute that ended with a yellow card for Beauden (his night was discreet) and a subsequent test by Will Stuart. Two minutes later and already in superiority and with Marcus Smith unleashed, because among other things Owen was touched on one foot and had an almost testimonial presence, another test from Stewart arrived, generating superiority outside. With seven minutes to go, the black tsunami had turned into a white arreón.
All the self-confidence and dynamism that de la Rosa did not apply in the first 70 minutes were seen in the final ten. And the unexpected hero, Stuart, a name that we could read on his shirt (not on that of the All Blacks who have not yet given in to this marketing maneuver), posed his second try and left the score in a draw. The final minutes showed why Ben Youngs and TJ Perenara were not starters, with inexplicable kicks that they gave to their rival. But the The most unfortunate play was that of Marcus Smith, who with superiority, the team untied and the last ball in his hands in a match in which only honor was at stake, decided to take it out and sign the tie. A nonsense no matter where you look.
Posts to draw conclusions, Eddie Jones must make him look at it. His plan with ‘ball carriers’ to demolish the Kiwi defense with a header was a fiasco. Proposing that with Marcus Smith on the field is tying an arm behind your back. Pedro has bigger problems. England have lost the ruck’n’roll and have a worrying scrum deficit. If they add to this that they don’t have anyone reliable at 9 and that the double opening system is a sentence for their 10, the outlook is not particularly rosy.
In the All Blacks there are also disturbing symptoms. Beauden isn’t who he was and the team notices it. New Zealand fell apart with the changes, unlike England, and that in a team that specialized in demolishing rivals after an hour with their wardrobe makes them vulnerable. Who won? Well, it’s clear. France, Ireland and South Africa won. The other candidates to win the World Cup, who already know that neither England is so fierce nor the All Blacks are so scary.
Other matches: Georgia upset Wales
This Saturday brought more interesting games in this autumn 2022 window, less than a month before the World Cup in France. The big surprise came from Georgia, defeating Wales in the Millennium for the first time in their history (12-13). Scotland infringed a corrective to the Argentine Pumas (52-29) in Murrayfield, in a round match by Finn Russell, and South Africa passed over Italy in Genoa (21-62).