All Blacks clinch England series with 28-27 win

Monday, 16 June 2014 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: New Zealand exploded for three tries in the second half to beat England 28-27 on Saturday in their second test at Otago Regional Stadium in Dunedin and clinch their three-match series with a match to play. Fullback Ben Smith, who produced a brilliant try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi in the first half, Julian Savea and Ma’a Nonu all crossed for the home side in the second spell after they had been 10-6 down at halftime following a furious start by the visitors. Flyhalf Aaron Cruden slotted a conversion and two penalties, while his replacement Beauden Barrett added a conversion and a penalty for the home side who now have an 16-match unbeaten streak. Winger Marland Yarde, fullback Mike Brown and Chris Ashton scored tries for England, while Owen Farrell, who was sinbinned for a professional foul midway through the second half, slotted three conversions and two penalties. The All Blacks are now unbeaten in 32 tests in New Zealand, a run stretching back almost five years and have won 28 of their 30 internationals since they clinched their second World Cup in 2011. They had bumbled to a 20-15 victory in the first game at Eden park last week and been under pressure from coach Steve Hansen and captain Richie McCaw to lift their performance under the roof in Dunedin. Both, however, would have been ruing their side’s start with all of England’s first half points came in a blistering opening 10 minutes when they denied the All Blacks the ball and the home side fell foul of referee Jaco Peyper, which allowed the visitors to kick downfield for attacking lineouts. “There was a lot of energy in that first 10 when a couple of mistakes put us under the pump,” All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said in a televised interview of an early Farrell penalty and Yarde’s converted try. “We started to slowly get into the game late in the first half and had some momentum into the second half and getting points early put us in control of the game.” The All Blacks were kept in the match with two first half penalties to Cruden before they exploded in the second. Fullback Smith finished off a breathtaking counter-attack from 80 metres out before Savea went over in the corner to cap off a 12-point scoring burst inside five minutes. Nonu grabbed the third try when Farrell was in the sinbin. Brown scored inside the final 10 minutes to keep England within sight, but by the time Ashton scored his try in the final minute the game was over and only made the scoreline look closer than the match was. “We showed glimpses,” England captain Chris Robshaw said. “We finished really strongly and started really strongly (but)...we lost just a little bit of control in the second half early on where we couldn’t get hold of the ball. “It’s a results based industry and we have to look at two losses and have lost the series now (but) ...we have come a long way in the last couple of weeks and hopefully we will get better.” Hamilton hosts the third and final test next Saturday.

 Australia seal series over France with dour 6-0 win

MELBOURNE (Reuters): Australia prevailed 6-0 over France in a dour, try-less contest on Saturday to seal the three-test series 2-0 and leave a subdued Melbourne crowd cold. In a low-quality clash littered with handling errors, second half penalties to flyhalf Bernard Foley and scrumhalf Nic White were enough for the Wallabies to seal a scrappy win despite perfect conditions under the closed roof of Docklands stadium. Having allowed the Wallabies to do what they pleased in the 50-23 opener in Brisbane, a more resolute Les Bleus, complete with 10 changes to the starting lineup, had the better of a scoreless first half, though rarely posed any attacking threat until a last-gasp raid in the final minutes. Playing in Melbourne, heartland of Australian Rules football, the Wallabies appeared determined to kick away possession, but derived little advantage from the tactic, and blew several promising drives with poor execution. France executed the first promising move, however, a kick forward in the third minute sparking a foot-race between Foley and fullback Brice Dulin to the line, but the Wallabies flyhalf prevailed by inches to cut off the chance. The Wallabies were controversially denied what would have been the match’s opening try to number eight Ben McCalman on video review in the 22nd minute, prompting howls of derision from the stands. A smart chipped kick from inside the French 22-yard line by inside centre Matt Toomua allowed McCalman to touch down but in the wild scramble toward the line Toomua was deemed to have tackled an opponent without the ball, though the contact was minimal and superfluous to the play. After Dulin missed a long-range penalty in the opening quarter, scrumhalf Morgan Parra botched a second three minutes before the break, leaving both teams scoreless to halftime and a crowd of 27,000 frustrated. Wallabies scrumhalf White repaid the favour twice in two minutes straight after the re-start, spraying the first kick wide and striking the post with the second, and though the rebound opened up a scoring chance out wide, the home side left it begging with a pass that sailed too high. Foley finally ticked the scoreboard over in the 53rd minute with a penalty kick from straight in front, drawing ironic cheers from the crowd. France was perhaps the more profligate, however, their few forays into the Wallabies’ half cut short by an errant pass or handling error. An off-side penalty against replacement flanker Antoine Burban gave White a penalty he could not miss in the 65th minute but the scrum-half sprayed a simple chance to make it 9-0 with nine minutes left. France pushed in vain for a try in the final minutes, briefly rousing the unenthused crowd but the Wallabies cut off the threat to win their sixth successive match before next week’s final test in Sydney.