By Gregor Paul in London

There is a firm belief that good sides earn their luck. How an official will rule a big play is a little bit random, but so often favours the team that gives the appearance of being in control – of being on balance, that little bit more deserving of the victory.

The All Blacks can safely spin things that way following their 16-15 victory against England.

They earned that benefit of the doubt when Courtney Lawes charged down TJ Perenara's clearance kick and Sam Underhill capitalised to score.


It was certainly a huge moment when TMO Marius Jonker disallowed the try, but probably not wrong and probably not as fortunate as England fans will make out.

Read more:
All Blacks dodge bullet in controversial win over England at Twickenham
Was it a try? Breaking down the call that decided the All Blacks win over England
'Clearly onside' - UK media reeling after call that cost England win against All Blacks
All Blacks player ratings: Freakish Brodie Retallick leads from front
All Blacks: French ref Jerome Garces passed the buck on controversial call

The All Blacks produced more rugby than England. They had more variation in their game, more ability to hang in there during the tough parts and just enough of a clinical edge to score when they gave themselves the half chance.

Somewhere within Jonker those thoughts were probably there, and maybe that's why he was happy to rule the way he did.

Or maybe he just ruled like that because it was, reckoned All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, fairly obvious.

"There was no doubt he was offside," said Hansen.

"He was just about in the halfback's back pocket. What was going through my mind was are they going to be brave enough to make the right decision and they were so it was good."

Hansen's view was echoed almost word-for-word by captain Kieran Read who said: "Once we saw what it was and that he was offside we just had to hope they were going to make the right call," before going on to say that the way the All Blacks advanced off the line while the call was being mulled was not an attempt to influence the officials.


"He wasn't influenced by that. Once we saw that we felt it was going to be our penalty."

The significance, not so much of that one ruling, but the victory it helped bring, is hard to put in context.

This was a big moment in the journey this All Blacks side is on towards the World Cup next year.

It wasn't a test in which the All Blacks advanced their lightning strike attack game or showed off flashy new parts of their weaponry in a fluid performance of majesty and beauty.

But it was a test where they massively advanced their character and proved their ability to scrap like hungry dogs, stay composed in the most heated pressure-filled moments and somehow claw their way to safety.

It is not a natural state for the New Zealanders to celebrate rugby of a dogged nature. It never quite feels right to see an All Blacks side reduced to desperation and drop goals, but that shouldn't prevent anyone from appreciating the value of the skill and courage involved in being able to win by inches.

So often World Cup knock-out games are reduced to tense, frantic contests where it comes down to one opportunity.

Take them and you win, come up short and lose. It doesn't matter how the points come, or if the TMO comes down on your side because next week he probably won't so celebrate what comes and what history records rather than dwell on what disgruntled opposition fans say.

"I thought England were very good and we showed a lot of character to be down 15 points in a hostile environment with 80,000 people - 79,999 not being Kiwis - and the weather conditions not being conducive to playing razzle rugby," said Hansen.

"The boys stuck with it and skip kept them calm. They showed a lot of character to get the points."

Read did indeed have a big game as a leader and managed to glue his side together when they were looking a little shell-shocked after an opening 30-minute onslaught by England.

The wheels could have come off – probably would have – had England been able to make it 18-0, or more, and so it was vital the All Blacks found a way to fight back after England scored their second try.

"For us it is about trust and belief," said Read. "We have guys who are talented but we have to believe in ourselves.

"We had to roll our sleeves up and it was great to get those lessons on the run. We don't want to go 15 points down but we showed a lot of character.

"There were some great lessons and not many guys had played at Twickenham against the English certainly take those lessons on board. We have just got to keep improving."

And maybe the final lesson for England, for everyone is to accept that luck swings in mysterious ways.

While there is no doubt the All Blacks were the beneficiaries of ample good fortune this week, it was England who had it last.

Maybe England, in being denied Underhill's try, were paying the price for being the beneficiaries of a fortunate decision by the TMO last week against South Africa.

In the cycle of test football, it is imperative to take the rough with the smooth: the good with the bad and realise that a game never hinges entirely on one decision.