All Blacks on brink of history after crushing England
Hamilton: The All Blacks crushed England 36-13 at Waikato Stadium on Saturday to sweep their three-Test series and equal the world record of 17 consecutive Test wins.
New Zealand scored five tries, three by blockbusting wing Julian Savea, as they significantly stepped up the intensity and accuracy from their 20-15 and 28-27 victories in the first two Tests.
The first half, when the All Blacks raced to a 29-6 lead, "was as good as it gets," in the eyes of coach Steve Hansen.
"The first half performance was really special and really won us the game," he said.
"The things we did well were the things that we`d been working hard on and we executed our skill sets nicely, our set piece was good, our running lines were great, catch and pass was good and we finished off tries."
England coach Stuart Lancaster pulled no punches in his half-time message, and the second half saw the Red Roses attack more effectively.
"There were some sharp words at half-time," said Lancaster, who also replaced inside centre Kyle Eastmond during the break.
"Luther (Burrell) came in at 12 and I thought we showed a lot more urgency and intensity in the second half which obviously reflected in the performance."
It was not enough, however. Such was the control the All Blacks had that when the final hooter went with them in possession, they kept the game going for another two minutes until Savea scored his final try.
New Zealand now head into the Rugby Championship with 17 consecutive wins, matching the record of the 1965-69 All Blacks and the 1997-98 Springboks.
It was the All Blacks decision to resist testing too many new combinations in the Hamilton dead rubber that paid dividends as they put together their most fluid performance of the series.
Twelve of the starting 15 played every match, while England changed five for the second Test and seven for the third. The unfamiliarity of combinations showed.
They made a poor start when a Freddie Burns kick-off did not go 10 metres, and little improved from there as they suffered their worst defeat on the tour, which they had undertaken with a squad of 46 and hopes of at least one Test victory.
Instead, they leave winless, yielding first-half leads in the first two Tests and never getting near the front in the third. The All Blacks put a string of poor starts behind them as they stretched England across the park in the third Test Saturday, with Savea scoring twice in the first eight minutes.
Aaron Smith added two more tries and Aaron Cruden three conversions to have New Zealand up 29-6 at half-time.
The All Blacks were keen to attack down the left flank in the opening quarter, where Savea scored both his tries as England wing Chris Ashton kept drifting infield.
Smith`s tries were from handy support play, first receiving off Cory Jane who had glided past Marlon Yarde, and then from Ben Smith.
England rallied immediately after half-time, when the blockbusting pair of Manu Tuilagi and Yarde stormed up to the line with All Blacks defenders hanging helplessly off them. Left wing Yarde was credited with the try.
Yarde went close again as England maintained pressure on the All Blacks line, but the revival burnt out after 10 minutes allowing New Zealand to head back to more familiar territory at the England end.
With their confidence up, and holding a 29-13 lead, the All Blacks traded a kickable penalty for a line-out -- but their attempt to drive over the line was snuffed out, and they were not to score again until Savea touched down in injury time.
The All Blacks` chance to take the record consecutive wins outright comes in their next Test against Australia in Sydney on August 16.