30 Nov 2008

All Blacks beat England to secure grand slam

5:32 pm on 30 November 2008

The All Blacks have clinched their third grand slam of wins over the four home unions, defeating England 32-6 at Twickenham on Saturday.

Mils Muliaina scored two tries as New Zealand piled on the second-half points to claim victory over an error-strewn England.

England were far more competitive than in previous defeats by Australia and South Africa but were again undone by their own mistakes, handing the All Blacks a 12-3 halftime lead despite Dan Carter missing two of his six penalty attempts.

New Zealand, as in their wins over Scotland, Ireland and Wales, poured on the second half power to run away to their biggest win at Twickenham surpassing the 41-20 success two years ago and complete their clean sweep without conceding a try.

"In the end we were playing the kind of game we wanted to and we are very happy with what happened," All Black captain Richie McCaw told Sky Sports after his team added the slam to those of 1978 and 2005.

English players plead for patience

England is imploring its fans to give Martin Johnson's fledgling side time to knit together after the loss to New Zealand rounded off a largely miserable month of Twickenham Tests.

England's second-heaviest home defeat came hot on the heels of the previous week's record-breaking 42-6 thumping by world champions South Africa, itself preceded by Australia's 28-14 win.

But after seeing the All Blacks wrap up their third grand slam, having not conceded a try in wins over Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England, flanker James Haskell insisted his side would be much improved by the time of their next match, the Six Nations opener at home to Italy on February 7.

"Anyone watching at home who cares about English rugby should know we have the passion, we have the ability," Haskell said.

"It comes down to execution and ruthlessness. We will do it. When you're building something new, it takes time."

When England last beat New Zealand, 15-13 in Wellington five years ago in the run-up to their World Cup triumph, they finished the match down to 13 men after Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio had been sin-binned.

But the present England team have struggled to remain competitive at full-strength and they didn't help their cause on Saturday by having four players yellow-carded.

It was hard to argue with Irish referee Alain Rolland's rulings which included the temporary exclusion of Haskell for swinging an arm at All Black No.8 Rodney So'oialo.

"We were penalised quite a bit and you can't afford to have that against a side like New Zealand," Haskell said.

England's No. 8 Nick Easter admitted: "The scoreboard doesn't lie. It's a fair reflection of how far ahead the southern hemisphere teams are at the moment - they seem to have stretched away a fair bit since the World Cup."

British press reaction

The British press found few reasons for optimism.

Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones praised New Zealand's "magnificent achievement" in completing a grand slam of wins over Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England without conceding a try.

But, as for Johnson's men, he said: "The nation of scrummage and power is now turning out feeble packs of forwards."

The tabloid News of the World's Adam Hathaway pulled no punches, saying England fans "deserved better than the utter shambles they have been exposed to over the last three weeks".

And after seeing All Black captain Richie McCaw lift the Hillary Shield, named after Sir Edmund Hillary who conquered Everest in 1953, Hathaway wrote: "Johnson has a bigger mountain to climb - and he can't call on Sherpa Tenzing to carry his bags."

Former England lock Paul Ackford, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said the All Blacks had laid waste to the best of British rugby "with barely a bead of sweat lost".