Will Stuart double helps England to 25-25 draw with All Blacks

England scored three late tries to level things up against the All Blacks at Twickenham
©INPHO/James Crombie

It was a dramatic affair at Twickenham as England and New Zealand played out a 25-25 draw in the Autumn Nations Series. TRU’s Joe Harvey was there to follow the action…

Before play even got underway there were fireworks. The RFU hoping to whip up the supporters that had been enjoying the delights of West London abiding, heartily singing God Save the King and singing Swing Low as the New Zealand squad laid down their challenge with the Haka.

For all of England’s showmanship, there was little behind all the pre-match confidence. Each side would bleed a penalty in the opening blows, the jabs at one another overreaching their mark just a touch and it was in the face of that early ill-discipline that New Zealand would benefit.

A lineout move that went awry, Dalton Papali’I would read Jack van Poortvliet perfectly, intercepting the scrum-half’s pass and racing beneath the sticks. Jordie Barrett would add the extras shortly after and would be back on kicking duties following Codie Taylor’s score.

Winning a penalty at the scrum, the ball was kicked to the corner. An effective weapon against Wales, the maul was utilised to help the hooker across the whitewash once again. To get on the board, when the next opportunity arose England pointed to the posts.

With Genge giving Tyrel Lomax some serious problems, Owen Farrell lined up the kick and livened up a crowd that has died down dramatically. With 15 minutes of the half left to go, those searching jabs came out again, New Zealand for the most part having the better of things.

Rieko Ioane had a score chalked off, the centre eventually pinged by Mathieu Raynal for a neck roll as England defended close to their try line. To end the half Jordie Barrett would kick a penalty, the versatile back given the tee after England strayed offside.

England’s start to the second half certainly offered them hope after one of their poorest halves in some time. With less than a minute played, the All Blacks had collapsed a maul and Marcus Smith split the sticks.

Taking on the kicking duties from Owen Farrell, who in the opening half received treatment for a lower leg injury, Smith quietly grew over the course of the game. Fast start aside, English hearts would sink once more as Rieko Ioane scored perhaps the try of the weekend.

Sam Simmonds had the ball stripped from him, the makeshift blindside watching as the ball left his arms. With having a disjointed backfield, Beauden Barrett fired a cross-field kick out wide to Caleb Clarke, the Blues wing popping the ball inside to Ioane who left white shirts in his wake to run it in from some 70 meters.

Eddie Jones’ team looked hopeless. Add to the 16 point deficit, any sort of relationship with Mathieu Raynal seemed to have broken down. Even so, neither team landed anything meaningful, the All Blacks so reluctant to leave England’s 22m without points and resorting to Beauden Barrett to slot a drop goal with less than 10 minutes to play.

Less than a minute later, the full-back would be on the naughty step. Killing the ball on the line as the referee checked to see if there was enough to award a penalty try, only to see that several phases earlier that Will Stuart had dotted the ball down shortly after a Marcus Smith inspired break, the fly-half unable to convert on that occasion.

With the extra man on the pitch, England looked the real deal all of a sudden. Freddie Steward was the next to claw back more hope, the 21-year-old finishing off another flowing attack which involved plenty of the backs, while an offload from replacement lock David Ribbans did plenty to keep the move alive.

A converted try from parity, Twickenham was well and truly humming with the All Blacks’ buckling. It was rough and tumble that ultimately drew things level, Stuart now an out and out try scorer in an England shirt, the score given after a quick check with the TMO.

With New Zealand on the canvas, Smith drew things level. Scoring three tries to even things up in seven minutes is no mean feat, and with the weight of momentum behind them Smith kicked the ball into touch to end things honours even.

Some England players had head in their hands, their comeback mesmeric and for all the will in the world, you have to wonder if a ninth ever win over the All Blacks was on.

England starting XV: Freddie Steward; Jack Nowell, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (C), Jonny May; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Will Stuart, David Ribbans, Jack Willis, Ben Youngs, Guy Porter, Henry Slade

New Zealand starting XV: Beauden Barrett; Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor, Tyrel Lomax, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock (C), Scott Barrett, Dalton Papali’i, Ardie Savea

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Bower, Nepo Laulala, Shannon Frizell, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, David Havili, Anton Lienert-Brown