Thursday, 15 Nov 2018
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England 15-16 All Blacks: 5 talking points

England was overtaken by New Zealand who missed the opportunity to win a famous victory at Twickenham

Men of Eddie Jones led 15-0 after a good start, but lost 16-15 before a controversial late offside game prevented Sam Underhill from attempting the match.

England dominated the opening trade and had built a deserved 8-0 lead in the first 10 minutes.

Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje were defeated by the defenders and Ben Youngs noticed that Chris Ashton, without any mark, posted on the sideline, sent the Sale wing to slide up with a floating pass.

They exerted almost immediate pressure, increasing their lead with a goal from Owen Farrell.

Hartley goes over

And with 25 minutes on the clock, the hosts had 15 points for the best.

A 15-meter alignment was transformed into a maul that the All Blacks could not resist, and co-captain Dylan Hartley, born in New Zealand, scored the goal for the second test of the England, which Farrell converted.

New Zealand, who lost influential center Sonny Bill Williams following an injury to the groin, finally joined England 22 and Underhill conceded a penalty for offside.

The All Blacks opted for a scrum and the decision paid off when McKenzie tried a try converted by Beauden Barrett.

Beauden Barrett with referee Jerome Garces

England once again took the advantage offside, offering Barrett another three points, with the hosts' advantage at halftime being reduced to five points. The prolific goal of prolific Barrett – the first of his career in 71 selections – further reduced the deficit.

England responded, but Youngs was stopped before the test line and Sinckler hit to relieve the pressure.

Barrett scored a penalty, punishing Brad Shields' indiscretion, allowing the All Blacks to take the lead for the first time 20 minutes from the end.

Five minutes from the end, England thought they had the winner, but Sam Underhill's choice was ruled out. Courtney Lawes had to make an offside request after checking with the video manager.

Sam Underhill of England stands out, mark, but the attempt is rejected

It was tight, but such are the margins at the level of the elite.

Here are five HQ discussion points …

1. The splash is back

Chris Ashton marks the first try of his team

Jones had predicted that would happen for Ashton and this was the case after only two minutes in Twickenham.

Ashton debuted in England in four years and Jones felt like he was enjoying himself.

Before the game this afternoon, Jones said, "I think playing against New Zealand suits him – it's just an instinct – he can sniff a try."

And sniff what he did, collecting a Ben Young pass and heading to the corner. He just managed to escape a tackle from Damian McKenzie to unleash exhilarating scenes on the field and in the stands.

This was the perfect start for England and further enhanced an already exceptional atmosphere.

2. England misses Hartley when he is absent

Dylan Hartley reacts

Dylan Hartley lasted only the first half, but he was still superb at Twickenham.

After another impressive maul, Hartley emerged with the ball to mark the second try of England. Jamie George had replaced him at the break because Eddie Jones was adding a few more legs.

Hartley's co-captain, Farrell, was also impressive, continuing where he had stopped in front of South Africa.

After the release of Hartley at the break, England was debated and without his leadership, they went astray.

3. England ignores Jones' warning

Eddie Jones had warned his players

England was impressive in the first period against the All Blacks, but the story was different after the break.

Jones said all week long that the All Blacks are running in the last quarter – but they did it even earlier here.

From 15-0, they fought back and 20 minutes from the end, they scored 16 points without answers.

England struggled to seize possession as she faced successive stages of All Blacks pressure.

4. Royal Seal of Approval

Prince Harry moves away after laying a wreath

Prince Harry was present when he laid a wreath on the court before the match.

Harry is the patron of the RFU and was present as part of Remembrance Day commemorations.

He met Lancelot Slocock and Ronnie Coulton, descendants of two captains of England who died during the First World War.

Harry, however, was not joined by the Duchess of Sussex, who had been presumed to be in the stands.

Meghan will be at the Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall later Saturday night.

We expect their first child to be a big rugby fan, just like his father.

5) Reasons for optimism

Owen Farrell in action

Although it will be a difficult defeat for Jones and his players, there will be a lot of positives to take into account in the coming days.

England may have let slip its lead, but it pushed the best international team on the planet until the end.

This one was won as a result of the win against South Africa and Jones will be reasonably pleased with the performance of both matches.

England will host Japan at Twickenham next weekend. If they manage to maintain this level of performance, they will win a dominant victory.

This level must be the minimum for these players to progress.

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