Originally Posted by Dags
You know, it's a shame we don't know anyone who was there on Saturday who could give us a first-hand version of events. I imagine they'd probably still be somewhat hungover.
Ah well, I am tempted to say that if you were there you shouldnt remember it -- either the game or the celebrations afterwards. But of course you may support NZ -- there is a difference between not remembering and wanting to forget -- or you may have made an error and driven to the ground.
My recollections are first of how cold it was. Farrell did really well to kick his first five penalties. The ball didn't travel well off the ground and there was a strong breeze to make it worse. Then of course there was the girl in a red evening dress who sang the national anthem. She must have been freezing. The haka was one that I hadn't seen before. But you couldn't hear it because of the singing from the England supporters. The atmosphere was good. Not quite as tense as England v Wales last year but not far off. The first half was very close. My overall recollection is of the England back row and the midfield defence covering everything and being everywhere. They had to. NZ just launch attack after attack. They don't try to break you down at once, they just try to move you out of position until they have a numerical advantage which allows them to more or less walk the ball in. Most of the first half, when England recycled the ball at ruck or maul they were outnumbered at once and it just got worse. NZ are so quick and play to such a disciplined game plan. Conrad Smith butchered a good chance for NZ.
Farrell looks like a lad on tv. But he is a big athlete. His defence, with the centres, was instrumental for England. They are like a second back row. Brown is a combative character and when he has the ball he makes the first tackler miss. This got us out of trouble a number of times. It moved the point of attack/defence a little way from what NZ expected and allowed us to relieve the otherwise enormous pressure. Goode is interesting. You can't really see this on tv but he checks his run brilliantly to give himself a split second to move in. Time and again NZ found themselves having to use their second and not first line of defence. All this gave England fractions of seconds more time to play. Some of Farrell's passing is good too. He checks his pass momentarily to give Tuilagi space. But with the exception of the penalties, much of the first half was about surviving. We actually survived very effectively but at half time we couldn't really believe that we were so well ahead.
The second half started so well with a penalty. Then it seemed like disaster when NZ scored twice. But we were all exultant for 20 minutes as England stormed ahead. Tuilagi, put into space by Farrell, made breaks and the England support was exceptional. For the first time we ran the ball where we had parity of numbers -- off a set piece or where we had made them commit defenders to the breakdown -- and the rest is history. Or a bit of a blur depending on what you were drinking. I remember feeling slightly anxious that we might have made too many substitutions but at the end NZ only managed one try and it wasn't as close as it might have been.
Woods, Tom Youngs, Morgan, Launchbury, Cole, Cornbisiero, Parling and Robshaw worked really hard. Tom Youngs gives England good penetration. He breaks tackles and moves the forwards in the right direction. Likewise Morgan, though he needs to be given more space to play in.
Ben Youngs and Ashton look like world beaters waiting for the rest of the team to catch up with them. Their attacking abilites are exceptional. There is just a sense that we may be getting there.
Did I metion that I was there?