All Blacks: What the English papers say

Manu Tuilagi of England is tackled by Aaron Cruden during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and England at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Manu Tuilagi of England is tackled by Aaron Cruden during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and England at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker.

All Blacks break England's hearts

Robert Kitson -- The Guardian

So near and yet so far. England have not won in Auckland for 40 years and for long stretches one of the more stunning of modern outcomes looked entirely possible. Until Conrad Smith's 78th-minute try broke English hearts, the All Blacks were as ordinary as world champions playing at their favourite venue can be. On this evidence, the series is very much alive.

But, goodness, England will kick themselves all the way back home if this is as close as they come to a Test win on this tour. They could have scored three or four tries in the first half and were still threatening in the New Zealand half with 10 minutes remaining.

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Gallant England slip to narrow defeat

Mick Cleary -- The Telegraph

Eden Park was rocked to its foundations as England came agonisingly close to demolishing New Zealand's unbeaten 20-year record at their rugby citadel. It may seem trite on D-Day commemorative weekend to speak of handing out medals for gallantry but there was little doubt that the performance of an under-strength England side was heroic.

They unsettled the world champions with the ferocity of their defence, the clout and cleverness of their set-piece and their willingness to go for broke. That it all came to naught cannot, of course, be ignored. So many have tried at this venue, and so many have perished. England are in that ledger, too, second best in the history books. It will hurt but that was the reality.

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England so close to sacking Kiwi stronghold

Chris Hewett -- The Independent

It depends how you look at it: England have either blown their best chance of beating the All Blacks on New Zealand soil, or they will have the opportunity of a lifetime -- maybe several lifetimes -- when they field a far stronger combination in Dunedin next weekend.

A Red Rose side boasting only five first-choice players gave the reigning world champions a rare old hurry-up here, and for long periods it seemed that the greatest of all rugby strongholds would finally be sacked after 20 years of impregnability. Then, less than three minutes from time, the drawbridge was slammed shut in the tourists' faces.

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England so close to paradise at Eden Park

Owen Slot -- The Times

The All Blacks won this, as everyone expected. But they did not win the way anyone had imagined. It took them 78 minutes to claim the decisive score. They struggled in a game which England might have won. Yes, this was a defeat for England, but it felt strangely like a minor victory. The plaudits and the credit go to England. The mind also wanders immediately to next week: if this England team could hold the All Blacks for 78 minutes, what will next week's side be able to do, when some seven first-choice players will be returned to the front line? The All Blacks will come back better, much better. But England will feel empowered by this.

Glorious failure was England's shattering fate at Eden Park on Saturday, but their dejected, defiant response told its own story of rising standards and ambitions.

Lancaster's men narrowly miss out on ending unbeaten record at Eden Park

Chris Foy -- Daily Mail

After pushing the world champions to the brink of a monumental upset, Stuart Lancaster and his squad made it plain that being gallant losers will not suffice. There was a collective satisfaction about the way they had overcome considerable pre-match adversity to take the All Blacks to the edge of the abyss, but restrained pride was trumped by an acute sense of angst.

This was not how the script was supposed to play out. This was not the mismatch widely predicted. It was a tight, tense, gruelling encounter and England were not behind until 10 minutes from the end.

They were weakened, written off and cast as mere cannon fodder, but they would not accept that a New Zealand victory was pre-ordained.

England should be proud of encouraging display

Sir Clive Woodward -- Daily Mail

That was a massive statement by England in Auckland, very encouraging indeed, but they need to start preparing immediately for a massive backlash from the All Blacks next week.

The gloves are off. England can bring their A game and their A team into next week's game but so can New Zealand.

New Zealand looked flat and a little uninspired for parts on Saturday. It's not easy playing your first game in six months with everyone expecting you to win by a cricket score -- but they will be in top gear from the off next week.

- APNZ

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