OPINION: After mixed seasons, both England and the All Blacks entered their final Test of 2022 with points to prove.
It was the visitors who struck early, grabbing two quick tries through Dalton Papali’i and Codie Taylor.
Ill discipline from both sides saw the game lose some of its structure and pace, with the All Blacks taking a 17-3 lead into halftime.
The second spell began in much the same way, with referee Mathieu Raynal regularly blowing his whistle – and England the side who felt the brunt of it. The penalties ultimately prevented the home side from mounting any sort of comeback until the final moments of the game, fighting back from 6-25 down to 25-all.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players
1. Ethan de Groot – 5
Shaded by his front-row teammates. Lui had no issues at the set-piece and made a couple of pop passes early in the match but otherwise did n’t get involved in the open. Off in the 61st minute.
2. Codie Taylor – 8
Has made a strong return to form in the second half of the season. He carried strongly both in the tight and in the open field. He managed to fight his way over the goal line from a five-metre lineout. Good work at the maul shut down a potential England attacking launch. He copped two free kicks for crooked lineout deliveries but otherwise hit his targets. Off in the 58th minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 7
A strong showing. He had an excellent ding-dong battle with Ellis Genge in the first half. He earned the first scrum penalty of the game but then copped one of his own from him just a few minutes later, then earned his side another. Caught out on defense against Manu Tuilagi early in the second half. Off in the 58th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7
Made a couple of strong charges with the ball in hand. Lui forced a turnover with a nice hit on Sam Simmonds, with the All Blacks counter-attacking and scoring their third try of the match. He copped one penalty at the end of the third quarter. The main lineout target on the evening.
5. Sam Whitelock – 7
Showed some nice footwork in contact. He was a major contributor in the All Blacks’ excellent maul game, where NZ had the clear ascendency over their opposition. The All Blacks’ equal-biggest tackler of the evening with 16 to his name. Penalized once for not rolling away at the tackle late in the piece.
6. Scott Barrett – 8
Had no issues churning through breakdown after breakdown. Helped Taylor hold up an England maul to force a turnover in the first half. A force at every collision – one of his most impressive Tests of him. Off in the 67th minute.
7. Dalton Papali’i – 6
Grabbed an intercept off an England lineout and had the pace to race away for a 50-metre try. He forced one breakdown penalty towards the end of the first half but otherwise faded into the background somewhat. He pinged twice at the breakdown in the second spell but tackled his heart out. Off in the 73rd minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
Checked in with referee Mathieu Raynal before ransacking Jack van Poortvliet at the base of the ruck and effectively forcing the turnover that should have resulted in the third try of the match. As with last weekend, he made a couple of crucial steals on the NZ goal line. He finished alongside Whitelock as the side’s equal-busiest defender.
9. Aaron Smith – 6
Delivered quick ball throughout – sometimes too quick for his teammates. His running game was n’t on show at Twickenham – but it was n’t much needed. Somewhat unusually pinged for advancing offside from a kick. Off in the 63rd minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7
Threw a hospital pass inside England’s 22 that saw Ioane shell the ball. Delivered a pin-point kick-pass to Caleb Clarke for a nice territory gain. Twice couldn’t find touch from penalties, handing England reprieves. He threw an awful pass inside his 22 which drifted forward, handing England a great attacking platform. He danced his way through many an England defender during New Zealand’s most consistent attacking set as halftime drew near.
11. Caleb Clarke – 7
Made an excellent jinking run down the left-hand flank off a well-placed Mo’unga cross-field kick. He did some good work at the breakdown to shut down one England attack. Showed nice hands to take a high ball then pass out to Rieko Ioane for the NZ midfielder to race away for a long-distance try. Off in the 73rd minute.
12. Jordie Barrett – 8
Stepped into first receiver twice in the first attacking set and looked dangerous as both a distributor and a runner. He shelled an admittedly aggressive pass from Smith with the goal line in sight. He made a couple of strong carries and shut down one possible try with a strong hit on Billy Vunipola. Clearly New Zealand’s best No 12.
13. Rieko Ioane – 4
Dropped the ball twice with his first two touches. He had his own try scrubbed out for a neck roll on Owen Farrell at the breakdown and was then caught offside. He dropped another ball when the All Blacks were looking dangerous on the counter. Finally showed his value with a great run-away score but all-in-all it was n’t a great showing from a man who’s had a big year in black.
14. Mark Telea – 8
Made some excellent gains down his wing. Drew in two defenders but didn’t send the ball out wide to Ioane for what would have been an easy try early doors, with Ioane then infringing at the next ruck. Sparked a nice counter-attack down the right at the beginning of the second quarter. A high tackle on Jonny May could have cost his side. He snagged a penalty at the breakdown in the fourth quarter. Will be an interesting battle for the right wing spot next season.
15. Beauden Barrett – 5
Popped up as a kicking option from time to time throughout the match, with his most important contribution being the kick-pass to Clarke that created NZ’s third try. Lui potted a rare drop goal just to prove he still has the goods and was then almost immediately yellow-carded for preventing quick ball when England were looking likely. His running game appears to have deserted him, unfortunately.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho
On in the 58th minute. He couldn’t get his power-carrying game going – arguably a better starter for the All Blacks than a finisher.
17. George Bower – 4
On in the 61st minute. Part of a less-than-impressive forward effort in the final 15.
18. Nepo Laulala – 3
On in the 58th minute. Made zero carries in his 22 minutes on the park and just two carries.
19. Shannon Frizell – 4
On in the 67th minute. He wasn’t able to help maintain NZ’s momentum.
20. Hoskins Sotutu – N/A
On in the 73rd minute. His introduction coincided with the All Blacks ‘worst period of the match – although that’s not necessarily down to him.
21. TJ Perenara – 5
On in the 63rd minute. A dodgy kick with a couple of minutes to play handed England easy possession from which they scored their final try.
22. Anton Lienert-Brown – N/A
On in the 73rd minute. One of a number of players caught out on defense by a resurgent England in the final 10 minutes.
23. David Havili – N/A
On in the 80th minute.