After two very disappointing results in the previous two weeks, there was nothing better than a historic win for England against the All Blacks, their first over New Zealand in over nine years, to get Stuart Lancaster quite optimistic about the 2013 Six Nations, with a sublime performance from the likes of Tom Wood, Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell.
All Blacks Haka to Get Things Started
New Zealand entered the game on a run of 20 consecutive games without a loss and over a decade without a loss in Autumn tests and nine years without a defeat against England.
Big Tackling Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell took quite a lot of criticism for being included in the IRB shortlist for player of the year, despite not hanging on to a permanent spot in the England lineup. Well, he certainly proved his ability as one of the world’s leading fly-halfs facing the All Blacks and Dan Carter, finishing with 16 points and a huge performance in which he pushed New Zealand back at every opportunity.
The Mandatory Chris Ashton Dive
The 25 year old winger scored a try, following it with his swan dive celebration, in a score that put England 11 points ahead early in the second half. It was his 16th try in 29 test matches for England and his first since the Rugby World Cup, over a year ago.
Manu Tuilagi There for Every Score
It’s been quite a successful autumn international series for Manu Tuilagi, as the 21 year old scored his fourth try of the month and was involved as a scorer or set up man in all three of England’s tries in the 38-21 win over the All Blacks.
Lifting the Sir Edmund Hillary Shield
For the first time, following nine consecutive losses against the All Blacks, an English captain (Chris Robshaw) got to lift the Sir Edmund Hillary shield.
Hard to Digest
Great winners hate to lose, and Richie McCaw was outplayed by England’s Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw on the day, something that has rarely happened to the All Blacks’ captain in recent years.
Not so Golden
A very poor performance from Dan Carter, also with his kicking, going o-2 on penalties, and with his passing and overall decisions on the field, which must have some people in New Zealand worrying that a steep decline isn’t too far away.