All Blacks down England to seal rugby grand slam
AFP - 2 hours 57 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - - New Zealand completed their second grand slam in three years and third overall with a 32-6 win over England at Twickenham here Saturday.
New Zealand full-back Mils Muliaina scored two tries in quick succession midway through the second-half before centre Ma'a Nonu broke away for a third as the All Blacks recorded their seventh successive victory over England.
This win also meant New Zealand had defeated Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England this month without conceding a try.
Their winning margin, a record for the All Blacks at Twickenham, surpassing the 21 points achieved in a 41-20 success in 2006, would have been greater had not normally reliable fly-half Dan Carter missed five of his 11 goalkicks.
"I lost a little rhythm in the warm-up. I didn't kick well today but thankfully the team were great and the result didn't come down to kicking," said Carter.
"We played well and showed great character in the way we pulled away," he added after the All Blacks added this slam to those of 1978 and 2005.
After seeing Tri-Nations champions New Zealand win five Tests in as many weeks (they beat Australia in Hong Kong before arriving in Europe), delighted coach Graham Henry said: "Today epitomises what we've been doing all year.
"Our guys have won all the trophies available to them and won all five (Test) matches on tour.
"I wondered if that was possible," former Wales coach Henry added after steering the All Blacks to 13 wins in 15 Tests in 2008.
England, beaten by Australia, world champions South Africa the All Blacks on successive weekends, didn't help themselves by having four players sin-binned as they conceded too many needless penalties.
After a lacklustre first-half, New Zealand were only 12-3 ahead.
But they showed their customary ruthlessness after the break.
"There was not enough composure and we made mistakes when we were under pressure," said England manager Martin Johnson, whose team, while giving a better account of themselves than in their record 42-6 home loss to the Springboks were for the second week in a row, rendered try-less.
"The sin-bins didn't help. Four in one game is a little unusual."
England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain, said there was much for his youthful team to absorb before they started their Six Nations campaign against Italy in February.
"Some people are saying 'at least you turned up and played' but that's the absolute minimum. We've got lessons to learn."
England almost caught the All Blacks cold at the start of the second-half when No 8 Nick Easter burst through only to be ankle-tapped by Muliaina when in sight of the line.
However, the try-chance disappeared and England were a man down again when fly-half Toby Flood was sin-binned for a high tackle on New Zealand scrum-half Jimmy Cowan.
With Flood off, full-back Delon Armitage took over kicking duties and his first goal-kick in Test rugby sailed between the posts.
It was the first time New Zealand had conceded points in the second-half against any of the Home Nations this month.
But they soon dealt with that sleight.
The New Zealand pack superbly turned an England scrum, allowing Cowan to release Nonu. He then fed Joe Rokocoko, cutting off his wing, and he passed to the onrushing Muliaina, who went in at the right corner.
Carter then created a second try for Muliaina when the full-back raced on to the stand-off's a defence-splitting chip ahead.
And after England prop Tim Payne was turned over, quick hands between Cowan, hooker Neemia Tialata and Rokocoko sent Nonu in for a try.
England replacement Tom Rees was then binned by Irish referee Alain Rolland, who'd seen his warnings repeatedly ignored by Johnson's men.
Home fans had done their best to rouse England before kick-off by singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' as the All Blacks performed the haka.
England then had the chance to take a sixth minute lead but Flood, in at outside-half for the dropped Danny Cipriani, pulled the 42 metre chance well wide of the posts.
England had a decent share of early possession and Easter drove strongly down the right touchline. However, England didn't look as if they were about to cross and New Zealand-born centre Riki Flutey was penalised for holding on.
Carter and Flood exchanged penalties to leave the scores at 3-3.
England though were a man down when hooker Lee Mears was sent to the sin-bin for lying on the wrong side of a ruck before Carter kicked a second penalty.
And the hosts were reduced to 13 men when flanker James Haskell was yellow carded for a swinging arm on All Black No 8 Rodney So'oialo before Carter added two more penalties before the break.
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