Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First take: Tuilagi fails to shine

Manu Tuilagi of England is tackled by Aaron Cruden during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and England. Photo / Getty Images.
Manu Tuilagi of England is tackled by Aaron Cruden during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and England. Photo / Getty Images.

NEW ZEALAND 28
ENGLAND 27

Recasting Manu Tuilagi on the wing was one of the sizzling pre-match discussions.

Any international wing put in the clear with 60m to the try-line should score. England and Tuilagi found themselves at the epicentre of that scenario on the cusp of halftime in the pivotal second test in Dunedin.

Read: Sweet All Blacks win

If he'd scored England would have jumped out to 15-3 with Owen Farrell's conversion attempt to come. Instead, Tuilagi ran into quicksand and Ben Smith's brilliant cover tackle, the All Blacks escaped and with a subsequent Aaron Cruden penalty, went to the sheds only 10-6 adrift.

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England brought a stack of attacking ideas with their retooled backline but Tuilagi looked adrift on the flank.

When play moved close to him he belted All Blacks with his defence and took several defenders with him on the crash ball.

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However when the ball was kicked in behind him or play opened up and the All Blacks carved towards his flank, Tuilagi was uncertain.

England's rejigged side brought more ball players like Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell but there was not enough flair or instinct to really stretch the All Blacks.

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When the All Blacks found their attacking game, their invention and offloads were several levels ahead of their rivals.

That strength on top of Tuilagi's miscue and a harsh yellow card against Farrell, saw the All Blacks prise the test open after halftime with tries to Julian Savea and M'a Nonu.

England got their full crew and some fortune when fullback Mike Brown was awarded a try but their challenge for a series victory was done, their tour target has to be finding some honour in Hamilton.

- NZ Herald

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