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Sunday, June 08, 2014

New Zealand snatch victory in the dying minutes after strong England showing

The All Blacks scored a late Conrad Smith try to deny England a famous Eden Park result in what was a scrappy yet thrilling Test match on Saturday. The hosts snuck it 20-15 with minutes to spare, but England will take heart from their performance.

As we've come to expect with New Zealand, even when they play badly they somehow manage to win. This was the case in Auckland after a rusty showing that will surely be their weakest of the season. Dropped balls and a weak scrum nearly led to an upset in the opening game of the series.

England, fielding a weakened side that didn't include those that took part in the Premiership final, took it to the hosts and with new flyhalf Freddie Burns kicking superbly, stayed in the match right up until the death. They'll rue missed opportunities, as the game was there for the taking.

"I have mixed emotions at the moment," Burns said post match. "First and foremost it's gutting because as a team we gave ourselves an opportunity to get something from the game. To be pipped like we were at the end is gutting.

"But personally I was happy with how I went. Hopefully I silenced a few critics. I've never doubted myself, especially in this environment. Hopefully I've proved I can manage a game and kick my goals in the toughest rugby arena in the world."

It'll be all change for the second Test next weekend, but Stuart Lancaster has some tough selection issues to contend with. As the cliche goes, it's a good problem to have.

"We don't want to get carried away as we didn't win the game, we lost," said Lancaster. "We have to make sure we rectify that next week.

With less territory and possesion, the All Blacks will be pleased to have snatched victory but no doubt realise that they'll need to be more accurate and clinical come next weekend.

"We got there in the end but we need to be a lot better going into the second Test because we expect England to be better," captain Richie McCaw said. "We got what we expected from England. It was pretty competitive around the breakdown and we expected the physicality they showed.

"We were a bit rusty in the first half. Test rugby is a step up in intensity and pace and it felt like we were half a yard off it," added McCaw.

Posted at 12:18 pm | 77 comments

Viewing 77 comments

10stonenumber10 June 08, 2014 2:23 pm

Well played by England. You could see NZ goading Tuilagi into rushing out of the line, but he kept it together, they did score 3 off one offside though. He didn't have to do too much work to 'help' Eastmond.

Eastmond's break was electric, shame about the final pass... a desperate fling that could have gone 50/50. He still made the break though, wouldn't have seen Barritt or 36 slip through a gap like that.

Cipriani's first break was a welcome return. As was Conrad Smith's hit. Great break, heroic defensive effort.

Shame about the final try, but intelligent play by the ABs. Retallick's late shuffle back onside between Marler and May was enough to take Marler's eye off the line and force him to check his defence by a single step. With the ABs, that is all they need. Intelligent play.

Both teams looked dangerous. It was a case of fire against fire, rather than nullifying any potential selection threat. Positive, heads up play from both teams.

ROLL ON THE 2nd TEST!!!

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dave June 08, 2014 2:30 pm

What about those scrum destructions under the all black posts that Nigel Owens ignored
The reffing was alright for the most part but some big decisions were questionable

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larry June 08, 2014 2:31 pm

A few comments. First, on the penalty where the England wing was yellow carded, the referee, in my opinion, had no reason to give a penalty for "killing the ball." The England player on the ground did nothing to prevent New Zealand from rucking back the ball, a very quick signal from the referee giving advantage after the tackle, with little time for the England player to "roll away." Now they had to play a man down for practically the rest of the game. The highlight that followed was the offside called on New Zealand giving England a chance to kick a penalty. Where was the offside? The New Zealand forward had every right to play the ball, as it was out of the ruck, as the England player had picked it up. Number 13 was offside, but he wasn't involved in the play at all, as he had not been involved in the tackle and was at least five yards away from play.

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45678 June 09, 2014 2:08 pm

I felt a bit sorry for Marland Yarde, because he did actually rip the ball from Retallick, so you could argue that retallick should have been penalised for lying on the wrong side. it was the fact that NZ were going forward that went against him

The biggest error from Owens was that he got a couple of knock-ons very wrong. this set the tone for him to be criticised.

He also gave a couple of token penalties each way. One stuck in the mind was when England won a lineout, drove the ball forward. the maul then wheeled and he penalised England for entering at the side

once he had made a couple of errors, I think he opened himself up for everything else to be judged. He's normally very good, but it wasn't his best day. that said I don't think a faultless ref performance would have greatly affected the score

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Pete June 08, 2014 3:00 pm

The decisive point in the match isn't on the highlights reel. It was when the England team assumed the ABs were going to kick the last penalty and walked away with backs turned. That was what allowed NZ to take the quick one, make 30m by doing so and approach the line to put themselves in a position to score the final try. Hopefully they will have learned from it by next week!

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larry June 08, 2014 3:57 pm

Wow! That's a mistake that shouldn't be made by test match players getting paid to play. That's one rarely seen anymore! But it happens, sudden lack of concentration. My comments about the two penalties were intended to convey that I thought the ref was over officiating, at least in those two incidents, the yellow card on the England wing, and the later penalty on New Zealand for being offside when no one was offside that was involved in the play.

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jimmy23 June 08, 2014 3:45 pm

Wasn't the most classic of games, neither team brought their A game but considering almost everyone predicted England were going to get smashed they did pretty well.

I was worried about how Burns and Eastmond would do but they really stepped up to the occasion, however if they get picked for the next game they'll probably have to also step it up a gear cause the All Blacks will not be that rusty next time. Really looking forward to the next test with all our players available for the pick, should be a cracker!

On a side note, I don't like to bring up the ref because what's done is done but does anyone feel that Yarde's yellow card was a bit harsh considering the All Blacks did a very similar thing on their own try line and only got penalised? I'm not disagreeing with the decision to card him but surely if he got carded for that the the All Blacks should have been as well? I'm not going to say 'England would have won otherwise' but just felt that was slightly unfair.

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larry June 08, 2014 4:03 pm

Was there really a need for the ref to call a penalty then? I don't think so. New Zealand were clearly winning the ruck and getting quick ball, regardless of whether that England wing was lying on the ground at the back of the ruck. He was doing nothing to keep New Zealand from winning ball and continue play. He didn't even get an All Black boot near him. It's over officiating. Now rucks and mauls near try lines, there's probably going to be some things going on in there, regardless of whether the ref sees it or not, that aren't always within the laws of the game. But that's rugby.

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billturner84 June 08, 2014 4:13 pm

You're not allowed to yellow card the all-blacks in NZ

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irishrugby June 08, 2014 4:37 pm

Yarde was quite clearly holding onto the ball and lying on top of it, the All Blacks couldn't get quick ball as it was still underneath Yarde when Owen's blew. Intentionally killing the ball and a deserved yellow card

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FoXtroT June 08, 2014 4:49 pm

Indeed, a deserved card but what was wrong about the whole carding was that NZ committed two professional fouls earlier in the game; one that was pretty much exactly the same (perhaps even worse as it was closer) but were only penalised.

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DanKnapp June 08, 2014 8:24 pm

Both were either yellow cards or simply penalties - but not one a penalty and one a yellow. But I don't think it necessarily decided the outcome of the game. Well played ABs. They won despite looking rusty. We've got to sharpen up and develop as a team over the next 12 months, but I've got faith!

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hedderball June 08, 2014 8:38 pm

Didn't see the game but looked like a nail-biter. I reckon the Yaarde one was a yellow to be honest - he never looked to make an effort to roll away and unfortunately when you get into that kind of position no ref's going to have much sympathy so don't really buy the argument that Owens didn't give him much time.

Having said that, if Yaarde's was a yellow, I can't understand why the AB's didn't get a yellow when they failed to roll away from the tackle on Jonny May early in the second half. Same offence, different result. Not sure the result would have been any different - seem to recall the ABs did OK against us Irish at the Aviva with 14 even when we 20 points up - but that's why it's always harder to win away from home.

Well done to England - good effort and good to see the N.hemisphere sides properly competing. Wouldn't mind a rematch between the N & S hemisphere champions again - who knows, we might break our 130 year duck!

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IRB_ref June 09, 2014 8:04 am

I cannot really see the penalty here: Yarde managed to tackle AND snatch the ball.

Ref did not show him a YC for killing the ball but rather for not releasing (that is exactly what he says).

Now if we are going to penalize for a fantastic choke-tackle&turnover just because the home side needs to win.. ignoring the (light) footwork from Cruden on Yarde back under Nigel's "diligent" eyes. (2:46)

I also disagree with those who say that he had little time to comply with the Ref's verbal warning: players at this level know the Laws and the Ref's isn't anything but a reminder so timing is correct for penalizing, I just disagree with the underlying reason for it.

In my opinion this was all just good old rugby. no penalty for anyone and play on.

PS: I cannot wait for Richie to retire, he is a great player but he is always offside at rucks.

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45678 June 09, 2014 2:13 pm

there was a little footwork on yarde, but I think there was also a headbutt into the back from whitelock for good measure!

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larry June 09, 2014 3:51 pm

That's not what happened. New Zealand won the ball very quickly. The referee played advantage and didn't blow up play until the next tackle after the ball was passed on to support players. If Yarde was lying on the ball, it was for a very brief moment. The referee had time to consider this: no harm, no foul, drop his arm indicating advantage, and let play develop.

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ahrefuronlyabollix June 10, 2014 11:13 am

When you look at the replay, it seemed like Marlon Yarde was close to ripping possession from Brodie Retallick but it was after the tackle was made and both had gone to ground. I think if Owens had been close to the play he would have been shouting for Yarde to release and roll away, he didn't, so it was a definite penalty and probably technically a yellow card but based on Owens' previous decision to only penalise on the New Zealand blatant slowing down of play again by not releasing and rolling away, a penalty would have been more fair. Consistency is called for but I guess refs consistently don't award yellows against the ABs especially when they are at home. Also Nonu should have gone for 10 minutes for pulling back Haskell. If refs were less tolerant of this type of behaviour, we'd see a far more flowing game.

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kanpai June 08, 2014 5:29 pm

From a neutral point of view, Owens referring was a bit odd on some points - mainly the scrums - and had even been picked up by french commentators (and in France it's a big no-no to criticize the ref for commentators). I think Owens will need to work a little this summer, after all the poor performance in last games.

But the game was really tense and enjoyable, which surprised me from the English after a long season and the absence of some players. We'll see next week if it is going to be the same.

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Vladimir June 08, 2014 6:31 pm

A good referee is not 90% right, he must be 100% right, all the time. If he falters at critical moments, if he cannot cope with pressure, he is simply a bad referee.

I was truly shocked when Owens did not give this yellow card to the AB and to my mind, this is the turning point of the game. After that, this was not a fair game anymore and english players slowly lost the thread of a game they should have by a mile won.

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DanKnapp June 08, 2014 8:28 pm

I don't agree. It is impossible for someone to be right all the time. That doesn't make someone a bad referee. Owens didn't have a good game, but he still did better than the vast majority of referees out there. He got a few things wrong (two 'knock ons' which weren't, plus the yellow or not to yellow, that is the question) which didn't go the way of my team, but I'd still happily see him refereeing for my team in the future.

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Vladimir June 09, 2014 3:22 pm

If you except the little details that can, of course, escape a human-made referee (tiny knock ons, shirts pulling now and then, dark arts of a ruck, ...), a referee should never be the man collapsing under the pressure. When you get to the point where Owens behaves with complete inconsistency, this is a serious mistake. And it regularly happens in international events, to the point that we can question the outcome of a match.
I am sorry, THAT should never happen, never. But the same referees keep coming around and making huge blunders completely ruining the fairness of a contest. They are good, very good, 98% of the time, all right. But the lacking 2% are consistently shameful.

Let me rephrase it : a referee should be 100% trustworthy, thorough and consistent.

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DanKnapp June 09, 2014 8:47 pm

Well, you can keep on wishing for 100% accurate referees. Me, I'm going to live in the real world and just enjoy watching Rugby.

We are never going to have that level of accuracy. Sometimes you are going to win, sometimes you are going to lose. It all levels out in the end. Everyone thinks that their team does worse because of what mathematicians call 'survivor bias' - you only remember the events that confirm your opinion (they are the survivors) and ignore the ones which don't.

I am English. I think England had a few calls go against them in that game. I also know that we've benefited from bad calls in the past. What goes around, comes around.

We're talking about three humans on a Rugby pitch, one in a TV box, trying to referee a game as fairly as possible within the limits of human capacity. They will make mistakes. The responsibility of the fans, players and coaches alike is to accept that and move on. You want your team to control everything which they CAN control, and ignore that which they can't. England made a lot of handling errors and gave away a lot of silly penalties, and arguable cost ourselves the game.

Nigel Owens didn't cost us the game, and saying he did so creates a dangerous precedent.

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larry June 09, 2014 3:58 pm

Referees are going to make mistakes. I am a ref, by the way (and one who does not like all the law changes that seem to go on year after year!). I just see that in this case a decision to penalize was made that didn't require a penalty, because play went on without any impeding of it. He was correct to let advantage go on, but my question is whether Yarde really did anything so egregious to get a penalty called on him, let alone get yellow carded. He didn't seem to lie on the ball to the extent that New Zealand couldn't ruck the ball back and have play continue. As a ref I tend to blow the whistle on those situations if play is obviously not going to continue, and I would admit I haven't always gotten it right, either. One can argue that penalizing, no matter what the result, gives the message not to infringe in the first place, and technically Yarde did commit a penalty, very briefly. How severely he committed that penalty is what I question, and it did not keep play from continuing. I try to consider the "No Harm, No Foul" in calling a game.

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Kiwi Larry June 08, 2014 6:40 pm

All comments well expressed, just to add a small note:- what happned to consistent refereeing when Nigel Owens insisted on a re-take of the conversion for an early charge when the AB's played Ireland - but not this time. Perhaps he decided that it would have no impact on he game ? Just a thought. England are right in the frame for next weekend.

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:42 am

Yeah he could of and probably should of let that be retaken, but the kicker didn't complain I note.

Think it's more important Owens looks at his "knock on" interpretation first :)

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alasdairduncan3 June 09, 2014 8:53 am

I think he has his Knock On interpretation technically correct, but he seems to be over zealous in attempting to correct everyone else's interpretation. He needs to remember too that a ball passed/lost backwards OR FLAT is perfectly ok. I always love his refereeing as he allows play to flow, leading to some of recent years' best games, so why be so picky with the knock ons...?

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 9:16 am

I think he was doing it based on the direction of the players hands, but you can take pace of the dropping ball with your palm pointed forward, but still have the ball go backwards.

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10stonenumber10 June 08, 2014 6:45 pm

Referee decisions are more than likely going to aggravate 50% of people.

It happens. Had it been the other way round, we would be talking about the intelligence of the defender and dark arts of the breakdown played perfectly by England, with NZ rightly deserving the yellow for being on the wrong side over the ball.

You can't please them all, but at least remain consistent.

NZ commentary kept mixing up players names and positions, I think they called David Wilson Ben Youngs, and Yarde/Eastmond once or twice. Might have been a psychological thing "Who cares who these guys are, still going to beat them."

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Lockdown June 08, 2014 7:04 pm

Missed opportunity... Sure there were some dodgy decisions but those will even out over the series. We had the opportunity to win and should have won, can't see anything other than a 0-3 now (albeit closely fought)

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Facepalm June 08, 2014 7:43 pm

I'm probably going get shot down on this one, but I can't see any reason for playing Wood ahead of The Hask. Better ball carrier, bigger hits in defence, more athletic and physical...just a more effective player. There were times when critics (myself included) questioned his commitment to international rugby as he was heading off to Super Rugby. But his performances in the Aviva and his work rate on saturday spoke volumes.

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DanKnapp June 08, 2014 8:30 pm

Haskell did have a good game. Good to see the competition for places!

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10stonenumber10 June 08, 2014 9:57 pm

I'm a fan of Haskell.

Now he's finished trying to be the International Face of Public Schoolboys, growing silly handlebars for a gimmick in Japan, and lying to girls on the Eiffel Tower, he has found his feet. He is bearable unless you put a mic or camera on him, but you can't argue with him much now, from Lol's understudy to a starting member of teams in 4 countries is no mean feat.

More of a presence on and off the field than Wood, good competition for the back row.

However... question for the masses... Name another back rower like Lewis Moody. Another who throws themselves full pelt into the heaviest traffic, darkest places, and stick their face where most people fear to stick their boot. He had to have a screw loose somewhere.

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Facepalm June 08, 2014 10:07 pm

Jacques Burger :)

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10stonenumber10 June 08, 2014 11:02 pm

Facepalm indeed! Blame the concussion, he would understand.

Jacques Burger, more dents than a 90s Mondeo...

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:27 am

Haskell has had 1 good game, Wood has had a few years of being in the top few ENG players each game. Haskell also has had issues with discipline, in short Wood is the better cheater ;)

Wood will be back in next week, but good to have Haskell off the bench

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FatProp June 09, 2014 1:13 pm

With Woods vs Hask woods is a great leader and lineout operator, which was missing from us yesterday. I would still pick Haskell though as he is much stronger on defence.

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rugby08 June 10, 2014 10:54 am

Haskell's work rate is very good, but Wood has probably got one of the highest work rate's for a 6 in world rugby. Not that effective at any one thing though, but he sure get's around the park!

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Michael June 09, 2014 7:54 am

But does anyone have a clip of that Aaron Smith offload?

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:22 am

You mean for the Try? Wasn't that Ben Smith?

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DanKnapp June 09, 2014 9:34 am

No, there was a sensational offload from the deck. Unbelieveable skill.

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Michael June 09, 2014 10:02 am

That's the one Dan.

Really looking for it, it was fantastic.

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Michael June 09, 2014 5:45 pm

YAAAAASSSSSSSS!!!

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DanKnapp June 09, 2014 8:49 pm

Have a 'like' paimoe. Bravo sir. It's only a shame I can only like it once.

That was a sensational pass. Probably the best moment of the game.

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:18 am

Hi All, I thought it was a good game, but very difficult to watch, time seemed to go in slow motion sometimes :)

A few odd decisions from Owens but nobody is and ever will be 100%. Yarde's was a card, no question, nobody would have complained much if NZ were given 1 or 2.

I think Brian Moore makes sense in his column that Lancaster will stick with loyalty, which will mean team changes, despite burns, eastmond, etc. playing well. Other players have more "in the bank":

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/columnists/brianmoore/10885397/Loyalty-means-Stuart-Lancaster-has-to-change-half-of-the-England-side-for-the-second-Test-against-New-Zealand.html

I know all press are equally terrible, but the NZ press before the game said we would be thumped, and now after the game criticize us for taking pride in a close defeat :)

Really looking forward to next weeks game, going to be immense!

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Piglet June 09, 2014 8:41 am

Did anyone here Owens say if you'd been on the field longer you would've been carded to the NZ player after he killed the ball on there own line. That's not something that he should've said he made the call to give a penalty fair enough but saying he was lucky as he wasn't on the field for very long was bad.

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:43 am

No I didn't hear that, A penalty in the red zone like that is yellow all day regardless of how long they have been on the pitch. Ah well!

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alasdairduncan3 June 09, 2014 8:45 am

England deserved the win, which is something I don't say often. New Zealand do have a way of winning matches even when they're outplayed throughout, just remember that heartbreaker vs. Ireland (which I think was their last match)...

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Piglet June 09, 2014 8:48 am

England really missed an out and out jackel at the break down, both breakdowns were a bit of a mess at times. We had 3 brutes on the back row and with launchbury being the biggest threat for breakdown steals I think tom wood could've made a real impact. I know everyone is banging on about how he should still be selected and it's unlikely it will happen but anyone thought how much of an impact stefon armitage might've made in that game?

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 8:55 am

Well, did you seen the SA vs Rest of the world game? I know it's a scratch team thrown together, but Steff looked a little light weight in that game. I know they were getting dominated up front etc which makes the whole team look bad.

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Piglet June 09, 2014 8:59 am

I didn't unfortunately, I think England's weakest area at the moment is scrumhalves. I know we have a few props injured but at scrumhalf bar care they are all fit. I'm a Leicester fan I don't think youngs is international standard he's slow on his delivery they look sharper with care there but behind him I don't think there is anyone?

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hellraiser_rob June 09, 2014 9:15 am

When Youngs dropped the ball leading to the Retallick break, Yarde yellow, and NZ try I felt ill will towards him I must admit.

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UpTheLowEnd June 09, 2014 9:41 am

I would agree that Care is most definitely the form 9 at the moment, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that Youngs isn't international standard by any stretch, I just think at the moment its a mixture of lack of having a break in a while and maybe to some extent complacency about his game is causing him to under-perform. In the past he's shown a far better all round game than Care ever has.

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Piglet June 09, 2014 10:16 am

Yeah that could be true he seems very hesitant at times. Definitely England's weakest position regards depth. Dickson is terrible. May has said he is going to back himself a bit more and that was shown on Saturday but still made some bad decision. My biggest complaint is what they see in Goode. I think he is second rate he was put in to have decision makers while we didn't have one at 12 but that's sorted I don't see why he's selected he's not thatch of a utility back. He isn't quick enough to play on the wing and it's unlikely both flyhalfs are going to get injured in a game so having to step into to 10. Am I just being over critical or is this felt by most?

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karimabuseer June 09, 2014 1:16 pm

Agree mate. Thought we defo missed Care. And not slagging Goode off as a player, he has done some great things for Sarries. But he's never quite been on top of his international game. A more useful utility back would be Ben Foden in my opinion - more of a physical presence, and faster too. Though of course, as an Englishman I do hope Goode proves us all wrong when he gets the opportunity to :)

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45678 June 09, 2014 2:20 pm

disagree, I think there was 1 ruck turnover all game and this is with the so called master 7 playing for NZ. no need for a fetcher in a game where the ball is so well protected by those clearing out

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mrjmmlc June 09, 2014 1:43 pm

my team for next week
1-marler 2-hartely 3-wilson 4-launchbury 5-lawes 6-wood 7-robshaw 8-morgan
9-care 10-farel 11-may 12-burel 13-tuilagi 14-yarde 15-brown
16-webber 17-mulan 18-thomas 19-parling 20-vunipola 21-youngs 22-burns 23-foden

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Facepalm June 09, 2014 2:56 pm

I'm a huge fan of Foden and one of his biggest advocates, but l would really love to see how Pennell takes to international rugby. The stuff he's managed to do with a truly terrible Worcester team around him merit an international opportunity.

There's a great tribute to him here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2N137j8glY

View Video

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jimmy23 June 09, 2014 7:56 pm

I have to say I barely watched Pennell play despite hearing so much about him. He certainly looks a handful, perhaps he could have a go on the wing? Has he played there at all?

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UpTheLowEnd June 10, 2014 9:09 am

I've never understood this premise. If that player is a fullback, play him at fullback. Its international rugby, no one should be played out of position. I get that its less pressurised to put him on the wing but if he's seriously being looked at as a potential 15, he's gotta be able to show what he can do in that role specifically. Also, to my knowledge he's never been a regular on the wing.

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jimmy23 June 10, 2014 9:46 am

I agree but some players are capable of playing in multiple positions, hence why I asked if he has played on the wing?

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mrjmmlc June 10, 2014 12:09 pm

to be fair, he is staying in worcester next season in the championship so he pretty much is geting himself out of contention for the world cup, so would not pick him

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IRB_ref June 09, 2014 2:37 pm

agreed.

alltoghether my opinion is that the Ref was the weakest element on the field.

I think Nigel is a very good ref but sometimes he falls below his own standard.

I would much rather se Craig Joubert ref the next matches. more consistent

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DanKnapp June 09, 2014 8:58 pm

AAAAARGH!

"I think Nigel is a very good ref but sometimes he falls below his own standard."

Did nobody on this page learn anything about averages at school?! OF COURSE HE SOMETIMES FALLS BELOW HIS OWN STANDARD! He can be bloody brilliant at times, and make mistakes at other times. HE'S NOT A SODDING ROBOT! The point isn't that he doesn't make mistakes, but that he tends not to make them as much as I would do in the same position.

Show me a single sport in the world which doesn't have contentious decisions in high profile games, and I'll finish you off with any part of me that you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, as many times as you want.

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IRB_ref June 09, 2014 9:32 pm

Dan.

how did you perform in English? a Standard is NOT an average.

As a matter of fact, standards are set by the IRB's referee panel, good refs (like Nigel) on average, perform to standard (or above).

also, if you want to be smart, you should also consider that the best ref is not the one with the spike of genious (which would raise the average) but the one that more consistently performs to the highest standards, that is the one with the lowest variance.

ps. Tennis. have a nice day ;-)

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DrG June 09, 2014 10:39 pm

Considering you failed to see the 'reply' button and you've started a sentence with a lower case, I'm not entirely sure how you can comment; with confidence, on what Dan has written...

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DanKnapp June 13, 2014 3:22 pm

Hmmm... my inner nerd has got distracted by the talk of standards and averages. You make a good point IRB_ref.

If we're going to be ultra picky, I'd question DrG's use of the semi-colon, if only because he and I haven't argued for a while and it's all too amicable.

I would still say that Owens is a bloody good ref, if not even the best, but of course he is going to make mistakes. I can live with that. Anyone good enough to learn to referee has a lot of credit in the bank as far as I am concerned. The game wouldn't function without referees like yourself, IRB_ref, so thank you.

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DrG June 09, 2014 10:44 pm

Unfortunately I missed the game and have yet to watch it (if I ever do), so forgive me if my comment appears incorrect.

It seems to be; judging by past performances, that NZ can often have a shaky first test, which means this could have been this England teams best chance. They often seem to come back with a massive bang in their following games..

I have noticed in the past when team A for instance plays NZ, NZ performs at 60% and Team A performs at 90% but they still lose a VERY close game. Team A then say, 'well we weren't playing at 100% we'll have to come back stronger and then we'll win" so next week Team A are on 100% and NZ are on 120% and Team A get hammered..

Of course as I said, this may not be the case in the coming weeks but I find it's been a common trend in the past.

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JG June 10, 2014 12:44 am

Yellow cards and ref standards aside, did anyone notice Owens struggling to keep up with Retalick when he made that run? That boy has some speed for someone so big.

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hellraiser_rob June 10, 2014 9:37 am

Without wishing to be unkind it looks like Owens has packed on some ballast this year, what with impending retirement I guess...

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ahrefuronlyabollix June 10, 2014 11:19 am

True, he looked a bit f**ked at the end of the game.

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John June 10, 2014 2:32 pm

I guess that was also his resoning behind not carding Nonu in the first couple of minutes. It's an interesting new interpretation that he's using. Much like his new interpretation of what constitutes a knock-on.

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Leadbitter June 11, 2014 9:00 am

England are a selection away from being a better side than the All Blacks.

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DrG June 11, 2014 10:30 am

See my comment above... I'm not 100% convinced.

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DanKnapp June 13, 2014 3:23 pm

Unfortunately that selection is probably Julian Savea, but never mind.

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DanKnapp June 13, 2014 3:23 pm

Unfortunately that selection is probably Julian Savea, but never mind.

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thykingmaker June 14, 2014 12:50 am

Of course it was a yellow but you have to argue the same a few moments earlier on the nz line!

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