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friendly | International Rugby Union
Jul 6, 2024 at 8.05am UK
New Zealand
Reece (16'), Savea (24')
Itoje (21'), Feyi-Waboso (48')

New Zealand 16-15 England: All Blacks survive late penalty farce in Test thriller

All Blacks survive comical penalty farce to edge out valiant England
© Reuters
New Zealand survive a comical penalty farce to edge out England 16-15 in an enthralling Test at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

England's 21 years of New Zealand hurt was prolonged at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin as the All Blacks survived a late penalty farce to prevail 16-15 in Saturday's enthralling Test.

Fresh from an emphatic 52-17 beating of Japan in their opening summer contest two weeks ago, Steve Borthwick's men put in a performance to be proud of in their first of two clashes against the hosts, albeit not to the level of registering their first Test win in New Zealand since 2003.

A nightmare start for England saw Joe Marler forced off just two minutes after Sevu Reece put the first five points on the board for the All Blacks, but Borthwick's men rallied to level through Maro Itoje before Marcus Smith added the extras.

England's effervescent fly-half then got the visitors back on level terms after Ardie Savea went over for the All Blacks' second try, but Smith was not at his best from the tee, fatally missing a first-half penalty and a second-half conversion after Immanuel Feyi-Waboso propelled England into a 15-10 advantage.

From then on, New Zealand's superior breakdown and scrum work came to the fore, allowing Damian McKenzie to restore the hosts' slender advantage with a pair of penalties, although the 29-year-old was nearly left to lament a comical penalty episode right at the death.

The posts were open for McKenzie to seal victory for the All Blacks with two minutes left to go, but he was incredibly timed out before even beginning his run-up, giving England one final chance to attack the New Zealand half.

However, Borthwick's men were thwarted by one final turnover from Dalton Papalii, whose late intervention rubber-stamped an extremely hard-fought triumph for Scott Robertson's side.

New Zealand were pushed to the brink by England's prospects, though, and captain Jamie George was understandably able to reflect on the positives of Saturday's gut-wrenching loss.

"I'm incredibly proud of the way we attacked. Not many teams come to New Zealand and do that," the 33-year-old told Sky Sports News. "Scrum and breakdown are two areas we need to look at and we'll do a lot of work to make sure we're better next week.

"We wanted to make people at home proud and I think we did that tonight. It was a match decided by very fine margins. We've got to learn fast and will prepare as best we can. There'll be a few sore bodies but it will be a really exciting week for us."

What next for England and New Zealand?

Both camps now have a full week to recuperate before they go again in their second Test head-to-head of the summer, clashing at Eden Park at the same time next Saturday.

That battle represents England's final fixture before also hosting the All Blacks at Twickenham in November, while Robertson's side are in action against Fiji in San Diego on July 20.

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