COMMENT by Gregor Paul in Yokohama
As much as it hurts to see the dream of three successive Rugby World Cups be killed at the hands of an extraordinary rush defence, the All Blacks can only accept their fate with good grace.
England had their number in Yokohama. They had it everywhere, too. From the brilliant Maro Itoje outplaying Brodie Retallick, to Tom Currie owning the breakdown and the men in white, numbers one to 15 being the more physical.
It was England's day and they deserve their moment in the sun now. They reduced the world's best attacking side to a somewhat dishevelled looking, uncertain mis-mash of frantic bad ideas.
They got inside the All Blacks' heads and beat them up mentally. The attack just never functioned. Not the way it was supposed to. Not the way it was revamped to do and maybe the talk of an attacking revolution was premature – defence still wins World Cups.
And maybe, too, we saw a few cracks in the All Blacks psychological armour that haven't been seen for a while.
They looked rattled for much of the game. They looked like they simply didn't know where to run as there were white jerseys everywhere and not one of them missed a tackle.
The nature of the defeat, it being so comprehensive, means it will leave deep scars within the All Blacks. They won't get over it quickly because they were exposed on the biggest stage of all.
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They didn't have what they thought they had and it's never nice to learn that with around a billion-plus people watching.
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But their wounds will heal. In time. That's the All Blacks' way – to come back stronger and better and they will need to.
They will need to look at everything. How they were so so dominated at the breakdown. How they didn't do anything at the lineout.
How they missed so many first-up tackles and didn't look after their ball well enough.
These will be long inquiries because England were so much better and they looked the more polished. Their skills were better executed. Their gameplan was better and they must surely now go on to win this World Cup.
They are the best team here. That much shouldn't be disputed now even though they don't yet have the trophy in their grasp.
But if they play like this in the final. No one will stop them. They showed within the first minute that they were not the soft touch Ireland were.
Their defence didn't bend. It didn't flinch and it didn't look apparent at any stage how it could actually be breached.
And this was the big worry for New Zealand. Their whole campaign was built on their attack being sharp enough, clever enough and creative enough to deal with any defence.
They looked like they had the answers when they played South Africa. They definitely looked like they had the answers when they played Ireland. But England, well, there was nothing cooking. There were no answers from the All Blacks.
The playbook looked bereft of good ideas. Bereft certainly of the sort of magic combined with precision it would take to cut England open.
It felt a little hopeless. A doomed mission. England were impregnable.
What added to the misery of it all was England's lineout. It didn't look vulnerable in the slightest. They maybe didn't win the variety of ball they wanted, but they still won all their ball which wasn't the case with the All Blacks.
The big switch of slipping Scott Barrett in for Sam Cane didn't work. The lineout didn't function the way it needed to and Currie was the best poacher on the field.
There was nothing the All Blacks threw at England that they didn't see coming. There was nothing that made them think they had too much to worry about whether they played with or without the ball.
It was all England and sitting wisely, quietly in the stand was Eddie Jones, who must have felt with each passing minute that he'd outcoached his old pal.