This article appeared in the Herald on November 6, 1967. It is a match report of the All Blacks' 23-11 win over England at Twickenham during their '67 tour of Canada, Britain and France. The report was written by the legendary New Zealand rugby writer TP McLean.
It was too good to last. That was the only complaint about the intensely exciting rugby international at Twickenham on Saturday in which, in the presence of the Queen, the All Blacks defeated England by 23 points to 11.
The All Blacks' points came from four goals and a try. England scored a goal, a penalty goal and a try.
For 50 minutes more or less the New Zealanders played beyond reproach - one is tempted to say beyond compare.
The first try came within the first seven minutes of a start made the more stirring as the huge crowd sang the national anthem while the Queen stood at the edge of the red carpet she had walked while the players of the two teams were presented to her.
Once this try had been scored most of the rest of the half was a demonstration in classically simple terms of the right way to play rugby.
There was only one team doing this and this was New Zealand.
When, within the second minute of the second half, the All Blacks scored again from a try by MJ Dick on the right wing it looked as if the massive second half operation, which has characterised the touring team so far, was about to begin.
Rather sadly that was the end of New Zealand's domination of the game.
Let there only be praise of the English after this. Where beforehand they could not win the ball, especially at the lineout, they now began to take not less than their fair share.
Where their backs earlier had been unsteady in attack they now began to run with spirit and speed.
Coincidentally the All Black effort became untidy. IR MacRae, never entirely happy in midfield, became less and less certain and once was even guilty of kicking when WF McCormick had come charging in to try for the thrust, which was the one persistent lack in the New Zealand display.
Dick, after a crack on the head, also became less and less sure.
So things tended to stop and start rather than flow along. And from New Zealand's point of view there were times when play was frankly disappointing.
It may be that after building a lead of 18 to 5 at halftime, the All Blacks judged that they could not be beaten and dropped down into third gear.
To quibble about so handsome a victory, the largest in points scored by a New Zealand team against England, seems ungenerous too.
But there is evident need of a back performance to compare in consistent effort with that furnished by the forwards in the first half.
So in this tale of the light that glimmered, if it did not actually fail, there is still something left for the All Blacks to strive for in their search for the perfection which is the aim of every New Zealand team.
It was a dark and gloomy day with occasional spits of rain which had fallen for a good many hours beforehand when a crowd of 60,000 began to assemble.
The way to the park from the station was littered with touts offering fistfulls of tickets, and around the touchline there raced five or six Kiwis displaying various notices, one of them proclaiming New Zealand to be the world champions.
There was too a gentleman dressed in the uniform of Leo the Lion, the symbol of Wellington.
Soon, however, this effort was overwhelmingly forgotten as with full pageantry the teams came on the field and were introduced to the Queen. It was a moment of sentiment as the crowd sang.
And then the great burst of sound which is the Twickenham roar greeted two enterprising runs by the English backs - an encouraging sign in a team written off by so many critics.
Then came the thundering ovation to greet the opening try by EW Kirton. CE Meads made a run and the ball went left.
WL Davis, up on his toes, brilliantly dodged and accelerated and when trapped within a yard or two of the goalline, sent a pass surely into the hands of Kirton.
McCromick placed the goal.
England steadied a little after this shock, but the initiative was entirely with New Zealand as eight forwards, hungering for the ball and with the new cap Williams showing dazzling form, entirely dominated the contest.
CR Laidlaw was constantly at the heels of his forwards, instinctively gifted in all that he tried.
Kirton as his partner caught everything that came his with perfect hands.
All the same it took New Zealand nearly 20 minutes to score again.
The England defence, both on the open side and at CW McFadyean and RH Lloyd, and even more particularly on the blind side, was extraordinarily good.
It was Williams who set the second try going with a break upfield. MacRae seemed to be guilty of pushing over a man before the ball was snapped up of the ground by Birtwistle. Bu this did not disturb McCromick, who placed the goal with a splendid kick.
Kirton and Davis, between them, provided Birtwistle with a bit of open ground and he fled over this, sinuously swerving, before Lloyd came from behind to pull him down.
So they scrummed on the goalline. The All Blacks heaved and heaved again and Laidlaw, diving beneath the battalions of feet, claimed a try. McCormick could not convert.
The next effort was the best by New Zealand.
BJ Lochore made a break up the middle of the field. The ball was heeled.
There were four men to the left when Kirton, the first of them, took Laidlaw's pass he seemed of a mind to feed out the ball and hope for the best.
Of a sudden he saw that this intention had been prejudged.
Back went his ears and for 20 yards right to the corner flag, he dashed in a copybook example of quick thinking and running.
McCormick placed the goal - a fine kick from a long way out.
The scoreboard in great confusion said the All Blacks led 15 to nil, but it was 18 to nil and it seemed to be too good to be true.
On the call of halftime England served notice that the honeymoon was almost over.
KF Savage, incomparably more dangerous and effective than when he was in New Zealand with the Lions last year, stormed from the blindside into an attack that began from a scrum onj the New Zealand twenty five.
The opening was there and when McCormick loomed, Lloyd fielded McFadyean's high pass and hurled himself over the goalline for a superb try. D Rutherford unfalteringly kicked the goal.
There were further signs of a New Zealand resurgence in the try scored by Dick after halftime and made by Davis when he stumbled his way past a tackle and then drew Rutherford before making the pass.
As Dick went down for the try GA Sherriff tackled him. Sherriff had had to run very hard to get there from the lineout. McCormick converted.
It took a long time for England to score, and after McCormick and PJ Larter had each missed chances of penalty goals it was in fact half an hour before Larter, from 30 yards, placed a goal from a penalty.
Then at the very end Lloyd went in again.
WJ Griffiths cross kicked from the right wing and Dick, fielding as support to McCormick, fumbled the ball on the ground.
Lloyd, picking it up brilliantly, jazzed away from McCormick's tackle, packed on the pace and, to the most thunderous of all cheers, scored a try, which Larter could not convert.
The question at the finish was should the All Blacks have permitted England to fight back?
Inevitably there was another question.
Was the English resurgence a sign of suspected frailty in the All Black team and, as such, a considerable encouragement to succeeding sides?
The teamwork of the New Zealanders, especially in their great period, was magnificent.
Williams, playing easily his finest game of the tour, plundered the ground with his exceptional speed and profit came to the All Blacks when they used KR Treamin and Lochore at the back of the lineout to deny the ball to the Englishmen.
BE McLeod won three heels against the head in the first half, a fine effort indeed.
BL Muller chased with sustained spirit and Meads, though largely ignored as a potential catcher of the ball - the All Blacks evidently were not going to court penalties - thundered into the rucks with vigour undiminished by 38 previous test matches.
Behind the scrummage almost no fault could be found with either Laidlaw or Kirton.
MacRae had his moments, including a diving ankle tap when DP Rogers was haring away.
But it was here that there seemed to be an impediment affecting the hopes of the threequarters.
Davis, on the other hand, was splendidly quick and aggressive, and both Birtwistle and McCormick gave fine displays.
Rutherford crossed up the New Zealanders with some of his tricky running , and Lloyd and Gittings made fine impressions in the backline too.
Sherriff and RB Taylor were the most conscientious of winging forwards.
Larter and Owen developed strength in the lineout, and most effectively demonstrated the improvement in the English scrummaging when McLeod could not win another heel.