Will Stuart stuns New Zealand to rescue England’s amazing draw

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By Creative Media News

Under a gloomy, foreboding November sky, a conclusion illuminated an otherwise pitch-black night. Three tries scored in the final eight minutes of a seemingly hopeless game for England produced one of the most improbable game-saving heroics. The replacement tight end Will Stuart’s two attempts rescued a tie from the jaws of a crushing defeat.

With a 25-6 deficit into the final 10 minutes, England appeared doomed. Before Beauden Barrett’s sin-binning with nine minutes remaining and the beginning of the cavalry charge, it never appeared that anyone other than New Zealand would win. Stuart’s brace, which was sandwiched by Freddie Steward’s touchdown, resulted in the first Twickenham draw in this matchup in 25 years.

The All Blacks will question how they disposed of it. They had not been spotted in southwest London for four years, but for the majority of the game, it felt like nothing had changed.

Will stuart stuns new zealand to rescue england's amazing draw
Will stuart stuns new zealand to rescue england's amazing draw

Direct carrying, strong pressure on England scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet, and a deft combination of diagonal cross-kicks and good running angles gave them the sort of edge that would ordinarily carry them to victory. England deserves credit for persevering and defying the rules of rugby gravity.

The final period was also favorable for the neutral team. Rugby needed a thriller to restore some of the neutral faith destroyed by escalating ticket prices, Covid interference, excessive box kicking, and endless rolling mauls, and this game proved to be an adequate remedy.

It was a black-and-white film with a scary opening reel in England. Van Poortvliet’s ball attempt to Owen Farrell after a lineout was intercepted by Dalton Papalii, who sprinted 45 meters to score an interception touchdown. Both anticipation and pace were terrific, making England’s task that much more difficult.

Soon, it would grow even more mountainous. New Zealand once more utilized the cross-kick effectively and went on to construct a solid foundation in the opposition’s 22. Driven mauls are a topic of increasing debate in the game, but the All Blacks’ ability to break up the home pack and score a try for Codie Taylor was indisputable.

Barrett’s second successful field goal made the score 14-0 with less than nine minutes remaining. The scoreline would have been even more depressing if Rieko Ioane’s possible third try had not been disallowed because the center had collared Owen Farrell during the preceding ruck. New Zealand teams simply do not throw away large leads in this part of the world, unless it’s against its old rival, France.

The gap between the All Blacks and the Ireland team that humiliated them in the summer is both physical and mental. Their new forward’s coach Jason Ryan has particularly strengthened their set piece, and with Brodie Retallick packing down behind their massive tighthead Tyrel Lomax, England’s front five had a lot to deal with. The additional confidence it has instilled in the rest of the team is nearly palpable.

A Farrell penalty did put England on the board, but as the game slowed, so did England’s opportunities to capitalize on turnover ball. An additional Barrett penalty, awarded against Ellis Genge for offside at the ruck, increased England’s lead to 17-3 at halftime.

In the past, the game would have been over. Great All-Black teams would have grinned wolfishly and increased the suffering. And even this vintage, after a tumultuous previous year, must have carried the aroma of salvation. The 2019 World Cup semifinal in Yokohama felt like old history all of a sudden.

However, England was about to come alive. Marcus Smith, who took over goalkicking duties after Farrell injured his ankle, kicked a penalty and then slipped a charging Manu Tuilagi through a hole to exert prolonged goalline pressure on the opposition. A try appeared likely, but referee Mathieu Raynal ruled that an English forward had dived over the line at the last second.

Would it have altered the result? All such speculation was quickly rendered meaningless when Retallick ripped the ball from the charging Sam Simmonds and another deft cross-kick left England vulnerable on the left. One deft offload from Caleb Clarke was all it took to set up Ioane’s 65-yard sprint for his team’s third try. Ioane demonstrated the speed of the winger he once was.

The England bench was rotated, but a relentless stream of breakdown penalties derailed any momentum they might have had. Jonny May did break away once, but nothing came of it, and the home team did not respond until New Zealand was reduced to 14 men.

Nonetheless, New Zealand ended a year that looks far better than it did in July. And what’s next for England? South Africans, who never travel to London without a serious purpose. As they dispersed into the night, English supporters had much to consider.

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