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England 38 New Zealand 21: Try and try again

England produced one of their best performances to stun New Zealand and end the world champions' 20-game unbeaten run.

Chris Ashton celebrates as he scores a try against the All Blacks   Photograph: Getty
Chris Ashton celebrates as he scores a try against the All Blacks Photograph: Getty

The visitors, who had won their last nine games against England and not lost a European tour game for 10 years, were 12-1 on favourites before yesterday's match.

But they were outplayed in every department by a callow England team beaten by Australia and South Africa in the last two weeks, who chalked up their highest score and a record margin against a team being increasingly touted as the best to have played the game.

It was a result few saw coming after the contrasting fortunes of both teams in their outings over the last three weeks.

England led 12-0 at half-time via the boot of Owen Farrell, who then added a drop goal, but the All Blacks closed to within a point with quickfire tries from Julian Savea and Kieran Read, only for the hosts to roar back with touchdowns by Brad Barritt, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton.

New Zealand, perhaps suffering the effects of the illness that affected the camp this week, got another Savea try but England, with 206 caps in their starting XV to the 789 of their rivals, dominated until the whistle to end coach Stuart Lancaster's first year in charge on an unexpected high.

"To put that scoreline on an All Blacks side that good is way beyond what we could have asked for, but we've had the belief all through the week," Lancaster said.

"There was a lot of composure at half-time, real clarity of thought, and that's grown over the last few weeks. We've always had the energy and attitude, but today we put the top six inches on. I'm chuffed for the boys. We've all copped it, but we all stayed tight and I'm pleased they've got their day in the sun."

Strong in the scrum, aggressive at the breakdown and tackle, and determined in their running lines, England never allowed the All Blacks a moment to breathe.

The world champions barely threatened England's line in the first half and even Dan Carter, who has known only unbroken personal and team success against the men in white in nine previous victories, was off key as he missed two very makeable penalties and horribly screwed one clearance.

The listing of Farrell alongside Carter on the shortlist for world player of the year had been met with some incredulity, but it was the youngster, who cannot even command the fly-half starting berth at his own club, who looked the most accomplished No 10.

Lancaster could even afford the luxury of bringing on Freddie Burns for his debut at fly-half, and he slotted two penalties to leave the All Blacks potentially staring at their worst defeat, surpassing the 28-7 loss to Australia 13 years ago. Savea's second try limited the damage, but it was of little consolation as England easily surpassed their record win in the fixture, a 13-0 success in 1936.

The All Blacks still go into tomorrow's draw for the 2015 World Cup as favourites to retain their title at Twickenham, but England, down in the second tier of seeds, will perhaps look ahead with newfound optimism.

"People had written us off," said England captain Chris Robshaw. "That fuelled the fire. Everyone ran out there and believed we could do it."

His New Zealand counterpart Richie McCaw added: "England played well and credit to them."

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