New Zealand hold off England fight-back

All Blacks snatch 13th straight win, as Australia silence Ireland, Wales thump Argentina and France avenge Tonga.

New Zealand's Kieran Read wins the ball in a line-out during the rugby union test match against England [AFP]
New Zealand's Kieran Read wins the ball in a line-out during the rugby union test match against England [AFP]

New Zealand have held off a courageous fightback by England to win an engrossing autumn test 30-22 to remain unbeaten since the loss at Twickenham last year.

England overturned a 17-3 deficit after 17 minutes to take a 22-20 lead on the hour on Saturday, but winger Julian Savea’s second try of the match – from a remarkable offload by Ma’a Nonu – allowed New Zealand to recover for a 13th straight victory this year.

Meanwhile in Dublin, tries by Nick Cummins, Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper led Australia to an overpowering 32-15 win over turnover-prone Ireland.

He's had a wretched run of injuries, but to reach 100 caps is no mean feat.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen on Dan Carter.

Driven by memories of their 38-21 Twickenham loss 12 months ago, the All Blacks made a flying start through early tries by Savea and impressive No. 8 Kieran Read but were then worn down by England’s intensity.

Joe Launchbury scored England’s only try, with Owen Farrell kicking six from six, as Stuart Lancaster’s side fell to their first defeat of the month after wins over Australia and Argentina.

New Zealand heads to Ireland looking to go through a year unbeaten, something that has not been done since South Africa in 1995.

The All Blacks’ only defeat since August 2011 – stretching back 34 games – remains the reverse to England last year.

Dan Carter became the fifth All Black to 100 caps, but his big day lasted just 26 minutes before he hobbled off injured, to be replaced by Aaron Cruden.

The departure of the world’s premier pivot of the past decade heralded the start of England’s renaissance, with the home side’s pack sending their counterparts backwards in collisions and in the scrum in the middle 40 minutes of the match.

England did not wilt after Read’s 15th international try, which was converted to make it 17-3 and made him the most prolific number eight in rugby history – eclipsing the try record of compatriot Zinzan Brooke. It was the fifth straight game in which he had scored.

Read set up Savea’s try after two minutes, offloading deftly as he was being ushered into touch by three tacklers to allow the winger, who also scored two tries here last year, to romp clear untouched.

Fourteen points down, England turned down three kicks at goal to go for attacking lineouts.

After the third lineout, Billy Vunipola was dragged over the line in a maul but the video referee could not see the ball grounded and ruled no try.

From the resulting scrum, the ball was kicked forward by England’s pack but Read fumbled and Launchbury pounced to ground on the dive from close range.

Read sin-binned

Carter went off, Cruden kicked a penalty but England was given cause for hope when Read was sin-binned in the 33rd after persistent team infringements.

Working behind a dominant pack, Farrell landed two penalties while Read was off the pitch to make it 20-16 at half-time.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was left shaking his head after Wyatt Crockett, a half-time replacement for the injured Tony Woodcock, blocked off Chris Ashton illegally and Farrell booted his fourth straight penalty.

England’s pressure was relentless, New Zealand looked rattled and Farrell knocked over another penalty after Richie McCaw was penalised at the bottom of a ruck.

After Charles Piutau was denied a try by a last-ditch tackle from Mike Brown, Nonu offloaded brilliantly despite being tackled by England strongmen Ben Morgan and Courtney Lawes, and Savea ran through three opponents to ground.

Cruden’s penalty in the 71st, giving him eight points for the match, ended England’s comeback hopes.

Hansen said he was disappointed for Carter.

“He’s had a wretched run of injuries,” Hansen said.

“But to reach 100 caps is no mean feat, and the style he has achieved them in – there aren’t too many bad performances in those 100. He should be pretty proud of himself.”

Meanwhile, the Wallabies silenced the Dublin crowd with a performance that combined their expected backline speed with a surprise show of power up front.

Ireland trailed only 15-12 at the half thanks to four penalties from Jonny Sexton, who suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Ian Madigan.

Australia extended their lead when Cooper scored off a long pass from a five-metre scrum.

Hooper scored his second try at the back of a ferocious maul that marched 10 metres across the Irish tryline.

In other autumn international results, France avenged the painful memories of defeat to Tonga at the 2011 World Cup by beating them 38-18.

Wales thumped Argentina 40-6 and  Italy edged Fiji 37-31. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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