NEW ZEALAND 30
Hard slog and a classy lineout got the All Blacks home this morning in London. Seriously hard slog as it happens as England were a tough nut to crack. These Poms are not bad.
Not quite the side they were last year, but good enough to be a contender for 70 minutes, until the All Blacks superior skills and fitness told.
Certainly the All Blacks will know they were in a game. Brutal wouldn't quite be the word for it. It was clean, just ferocious and chunks were taken out of everyone. This was test rugby all right. Miss a tackle and the game opened up. There wasn't even a split second to be had for the tackled player: the defending side was on the ball instantly and the battle at the breakdown was phenomenal. England probably won it, but not to the extent that they could deny the All Blacks the possession and pace of possession that they needed.
And by the final 10 minutes, the All Blacks had them just about under control. They'd started to clear the bodies quicker and were making dominant tackles to leave England toiling a bit behind the gainline.
The All Blacks also managed to disrupt England's lineout and it was probably there that they won the game. At 22-20 down, England were searching for the killer blow. But the All Blacks started to win England's lineout ball. They started to damage the quality of England's possession from the touchline and the game changed in the final 20 minutes.
It was apparent that New Zealand were the team with all the momentum and were the only one likely to score which they did when Julian Savea bashed over for his second after concerted and controlled build up.
It was a score every All Blacks was relieved to see - not only in the context of the game, but because it meant Dan Carter would have something at least to take from his 100th cap. He limped off after 25 minutes - a damaged calf looked to be the problem after he was cleaned up in a crunching tackle.
As he disappeared and England grew in confidence, memories of last year were hard to keep at bay. Waves of England runners came round the corner and recycled quick ball that left them running into space.
They backed their driving maul from lineouts and got plenty out of it and for the second quarter of the first half, the All Blacks were under as much pressure as they have been all year.
They couldn't get the ball. They couldn't get their counter-attacking game going and they were being hammered on the penalty count. It was mainly around the breakdown that they were being pinged - either refusing to release the tackled player or coming in from the side.
That's what pressure it does - it saps players, forces them to make mistakes in their desperation to stop the momentum and England are one of the great sides in world rugby at applying it. Kieran Read, in his urgency to turn the tide, was shown a yellow card. Had to go. There had been too many infringements and to be fair to England, they deserved something tangible for their dominance.
But two deadly strikes from the All Blacks in the first half and a third late in the game kept the All Blacks in track for a perfect calendar year
England 22 (J. Launchbury tries; O. Farrell 5 pens, con)
New Zealand 30 (J. Savea (2), K. Read tries; D. Carter 2 cons; A. Cruden 3 pens, con)