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All Blacks destroy England

June 12, 2004 22:38 IST

New Zealand, their forwards rampant and their three-quarters in overdrive, crushed England's world champions 36-3 in the first Test.

They produced a stunning first-half performance on Saturday, running their opponents ragged from the opening exchanges and scoring three tries without reply.

The contest was over by the break at 30-3, with scintillating wingers Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett touching down as well as flyhalf Carlos Spencer after expansive, high-speed back moves.

Centre Daniel Carter kicked five penalties and three conversions in an immaculate display for 21 points.

"We found it hard to stop them and we fell off so many one-on-one tackles," said England coach Clive Woodward. "But it's happened and we get another game next week to get it right."

New Zealand's Graham Henry, in his first game in charge, responded: "We are delighted and a little surprised at the ease of the victory. Our set pieces won the game for us.

"The players spent just about every waking minute of last week thinking of lineouts and they were superb...we've been flaky in that area in the recent past, but not tonight."

The second match of the two-Test series is scheduled for next Saturday.

New Zealand set the tone immediately at Carisbrook, Rokocoko producing a scything 40-metre run right from the kick-off and penetrating deep into English territory.

The home side dominated the ball so completely that the visitors had barely got a touch before Carter slotted his first penalty after six minutes.

New Zealand's worries before the game had been on how to counter England's pack but their remodelled tight five, so underpowered at last year's World Cup, pushed their opponents back from the start while excelling in the line-outs.

FORWARDS NULLIFIED

English concerns, meanwhile, centred on rustiness and lack of pace behind the scrum. With their forwards nullified, it was soon obvious they had much more to fear.

Flyhalf Charlie Hodgson levelled after the Kiwi forwards dived over at a maul before the home team scored a gem of a try after a quarter of an hour.

England scrumhalf Matt Dawson, who has barely played since the World Cup, had a grubber charged down, the ball was spun wide and Howlett waltzed around hooker Steve Thompson, straightened to take the tackle while flicking the ball right for Spencer to dive in unopposed.

The touring side continued to miss their touch kicks and, on 25 minutes, Rokocoko blasted through for the second try, brushing off some wafer-thin tackles as he cut back off the left wing. Carter's kick made it 17-3.

England, with openside Richie McCaw beating them to every loose ball and New Zealand lock Keith Robinson and debutant flanker Jono Gibbes outstanding, were so rattled that, when offered a penalty in front of the posts, the decision was reversed after an expletive from Ben Cohen.

Howlett scored the third try, finding acres of space on the right as Carter continued to slot his kicks to make it 30-3 at the break.

England, struggling ever since losing several of their key World Cup players through retirement or injury, tried to retain some control with flanker Joe Worsley and lock Steve Borthwick on for Chris Jones and Danny Grewcock.

They managed to slow the pace but it was little more than an attempt to patch up a cracking dam, with the slickest moves still dressed in black.

Carter kicked another two penalties to make it 36-3 with just over 10 minutes to go. England, by then, had almost reached parity but trudged off truly humiliated and with major problems to solve.

Teams:

New Zealand: 15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Doug Howlett, 13-Tana Umaga (captain), 12-Daniel Carter (21-Sam Tuitupou 71), 11-Joe Rokocoko (22-Nick Evans 65), 10-Carlos Spencer, 9-Justin Marshall, 8-Xavier Rush, 7-Richie McCaw (19-Marty Holah 62), 6-Jono Gibbes, 5-Keith Robinson, 4-Chris Jack, 3-Carl Hayman, 2-Keven Mealamu (16-Andrew Hore 25, Mealamu 40th), 1-Kees Meeuws (17-Tony Woodcock 71).

England: 15-Josh Lewsey (21-Stuart Abbott 22, Lewsey 29), 14-James Simpson-Daniel, 13-Mike Tindall, 12-Mike Catt (Abbott 65), 11-Ben Cohen, 10-Charlie Hodgson, 9-Matt Dawson (20-Andy Gomarsall 65), 8-Lawrence Dallaglio (captain), 7-Richard Hill, 6-Chris Jones (19-Joe Worsley 40), 5-Danny Grewcock (18-Steve Borthwick 40), 4-Simon Shaw, 3-Julian White (17-Matt Stevens 66), 2-Steve Thompson (16-Mark Regan 66), 1-Trevor Woodman.

Geoff Young
Source:
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