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All Blacks kick off Razor era with a gritty win over England

The boot of Damian McKenzie proved the difference between the sides, as the All Blacks defeated England 16-15 in a gripping encounter in Dunedin. 

McKenzie’s two second-half penalties ultimately guided the All Blacks to victory over Steve Borthwick’s men, but other scores from Sevu Reece and Ardie Savea helped them on their way.

After a cagey opening 15 minutes, the All Blacks took the lead. Powerful carries through the pack not only marched New Zealand down to the England 22; but it also drew in the defence too.

With acres of space out wide, a wonderful cross-field kick from Damian McKenzie found Sevu Reece, and the Crusaders winger dotted down in the corner.

England came back well though, and nearly grabbed a try of their own. Solid carries from George Furbank and Alex Mitchell got Steve Borthwick’s side in-behind the defence, but Marcus Smith’s grubber was well dealt with by Jordie Barrett.

They didn’t go away though, and swiftly gained the lead as Maro Itoje burrowed over from close range.

The lead didn’t last long though, as Ardie Savea crossed out wide. Silky feet from Stephen Perofeta allowed the fullback to slice through the England line, and he put the try on a plate for the iconic back-rower.

The All Blacks were looking imperious at this point. Mark Tele’a, J. Barrett and even Scott Barrett were able to charge through the initial English defensive line with ease, but luckily for them the back-row came through to produce some stellar turnovers.

In the closing stages of the first-half, it was England’s turn to pile on the pressure. Strong carries from Ben Earl and the rest of the forward pack battered down the All Blacks defence, but a sloppy penalty brought the attack to an end.

With the clock now in the red, Smith added three more points to his haul and tying the game up at half-time.

McKenzie seals gritty win for All Blacks

England came out the blocks well in the second-half. A strong carry by Fin Baxter got them on the front-foot, and they swiftly marched deep into the All Blacks 22, but a costly penalty at the ruck gave Scott Robertson’s men an easy reprieve.

They couldn’t be denied for long though, as Feyi-Waboso crossed for their second of the game. Lovely work from Tommy Freeman and Chandler Cunningham-South unlocked the New Zealand defence; but it took a wonderful pass from Marcus Smith to find the Exeter winger in space out wide and he strolled in for the try.

New Zealand responded well, as McKenzie slotted his first kick of the game to bring his side back to within two-points.

After a period of trench warfare, the boot of McKenzie again put the All Blacks in front. The game was still very much in the balance though.

The game, which was already plenty physical, stepped up a notch in the latter stages. New Zealand began targeting Furbank with some high kicks, and some even harder tackles, but he stood tall when his side needed him.

With the clock winding down, McKenzie could have given his side a four-point buffer, but he overran the shot-clock to gift England the ball.

Luckily for him though, his blushes were spared as the All Blacks produced a crucial turnover to ensure the Razor era got off to the best possible start.

New Zealand 16-15 England

New Zealand-16

Tries: Reece, Savea

Conversions: McKenzie (0/2)

Penalties: McKenzie (2/2)

England-15

Tries: Itoje, Feyi-Waboso

Conversions: Smith (1/2)

Penalties: Smith (0/2)

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