London - England's Sam Underhill was denied a late and potentially
match-winning try as world champions New Zealand came from 15-0 down to win
16-15 at a rainswept Twickenham on Saturday.
Just four minutes remained when England thought they were
about to record just an eighth win in 41 Tests against the All Blacks when
Courtney Lawes charged down replacement TJ Perenara's kick and Underhill,
weaving his way past Beauden Barrett, crossed.
But French referee Jerome Garces, after consulting South
African television match official Marius Jonker, decided Lawes had been
marginally offside and disallowed the score to the dismay of a capacity
Twickenham crowd of over 82 000.
New Zealand had earlier recovered from the shock of
England's impressive start to be just five points down at half-time thanks to
fullback Damian McKenzie's converted try and a Barrett penalty.
Flyhalf Barrett's second-half drop-goal and penalty then
proved the decisive scores in what was the first England-New Zealand clash for
four years - and one that took place fewer than 12 months out from the 2019
World Cup in Japan.
It took England, fresh from an unconvincing and try-less
12-11 home win over South Africa last weekend, fewer than two minutes to score
the first try.
England co-captain Farrell's well-judged kick-off, which
allowed his chasers to compete for the ball in the air, was knocked on by New
Zealand lock Brodie Retallick.
England's ensuing scrum was solid, with forwards Kyle
Sinckler and Maro Itoje then leading the charge into the All Blacks' 22-metre
Scrumhalf Ben Youngs's floated cut-out pass then found
Ashton who, taking advantage of some inexplicably slack marking, used the wet
turf to slide in at the right corner rather than celebrate with his customary
It was a stunning way for the Sale wing to mark his first
England start in four years and his 20th try in 41 career Tests.
Farrell saw a difficult touchline conversion hit the right
post but, with England dominating territory, the fly-half extended the lead to
8-0 with a 10th-minute drop-goal.
Long-range kick specialist Elliot Daly's penalty then set-up
a line-out just 10 metres from the New Zealand try-line.
England won their own ball and a powerful driving maul saw
co-captain Hartley, their New Zealand-born hooker, driven over for a
24th-minute try by the posts. Farrell added the simple conversion and England,
against all expectations, led 15-0.
By this stage openside flank Underhill, recalled in place of
the injured Tom Curry had already made a number of important tackles.
England were playing classic wet-weather rugby.
But mistakes towards the end of the first half cost them
They allowed McKenzie to make ground after missing a couple
of first-up tackles, with England wing Jonny May eventually penalised for
offside as he intercepted a pass.
The All Blacks declined a kickable penalty to opt for a
scrum 12 metres out.
Their setpiece was solid and Barrett's clever inside pass
allowed the onrushing McKenzie to go over on the cutback for a 39th-minute try
that Barrett duly converted.
With barely a minute left in the half, Farrell then
carelessly kicked the re-start directly into touch, allowing New Zealand a
scrum on the half-way line.
The All Blacks gained field position off the setpiece and
further England indiscipline allowed Barrett to knock over a penalty in front
of the posts.
New Zealand nearly caught England cold right at the start of
the second half after a jinking McKenzie sliced his way through before linking
with Ben Smith and Aaron Smith only for wing Rieko Ioane to drop the
scrum-half's pass when a try was in sight.
But they did cut England's lead to two points when Barrett
landed a drop-goal - his first at this level.
As so often, New Zealand weathered both the conditions and
their opponents' impressive early start, with Barrett's penalty on the hour
giving them a one-point lead that turned out to be just enough.