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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 16:30 GMT
England survive All Blacks scare
Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson contributed 21 points to the England total

England 31-28 New Zealand

England survived a late New Zealand comeback to launch their autumn Test series at Twickenham with only their fifth-ever victory over the All Blacks.

Leading 17-14 at the interval, Clive Woodward's side appeared to be cruising after a stunning burst of 14 points in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

A brilliant solo try from Jonny Wilkinson, who also added 16 points with the boot, and another from wing Ben Cohen, sent the hosts into a 31-14 lead.

  Twickenham scoreboard
England: Tries: Moody, Wilkinson, Cohen
Cons: Wilkinson 2
Pens: Wilkinson 3
Drop: Wilkinson
New Zealand: Tries: Lomu 2, Howlett, Lee
Cons: Blair 2, Mehrtens 2

Lewis Moody had earlier grabbed the first of England's three tries, but the All Blacks responded superbly with tries from Jonah Lomu and Danny Lee setting up a dramatic climax.

Lomu, so often England's tormentor in the past, had earlier grabbed the first of four tries for the visitors, with fellow wing Doug Howlett adding a sensational second.

And Howlett almost produced a last-gasp New Zealand victory with an electric burst from deep in his own half, but Cohen's cover tackle on Ben Blair saved the day.

England supporters were in good heart from the off as a resounding chorus of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" drowned out the All Blacks' pre-match haka.

They remained so during the furious opening exchanges as Wilkinson twice punished New Zealand ruck offences to kick England into a 6-0 lead after eight minutes.

Jonah Lomu
Jonah Lomu was England's tormentor again

But the All Blacks - and Lomu - responded in trademark fashion, scoring a try that Blair confidently converted from the touchline to edge them ahead.

After Cohen, Will Greenwood and Mike Tindall were held up short of the line, England regained the lead through Wilkinson's crafty drop goal.

But, again, the All Blacks countered with a soft try after Richard Hill gave the ball away carelessly on the halfway line.

Tana Umaga's juggling act found Howlett, who turned on the afterburners to power past Jason Robinson for his 15th try in 22 Test outings.

Wilkinson's penalty reduced the deficit before Moody grabbed the opening England try in first-half injury time.

We've been told all week by our New Zealand friends that rugby is all about winning, and we did that
Clive Woodward
England coach

And then Wilkinson brilliantly put England in control on the resumption when, shaping to drop for goal, he chipped over the defence and collected the bouncing ball to dive over.

New Zealand replacement, fly-half Andrew Mehrtens, then fumbled the ball in midfield and the alert Cohen pounced to sprint 50 metres for the try.

At 31-14 England were rampant, but Lomu barged through Tindall for his second try just before the hour and replacement scum-half Lee burrowed over from close range with 10 minutes left.

Mehrtens converted both to ensure a nervous finale, but England held out, just.


England: Jason Robinson; James Simpson-Daniel, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall, Ben Cohen; Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Dawson; Lawrence Dallaglio, Richard Hill, Lewis Moody, Danny Grewcock, Martin Johnson (captain), Phil Vickery, Steve Thompson, Trevor Woodman.
Replacements: Regan, Leonard, Kay, Back, Healey, Johnston, Stimpson.

New Zealand: Ben Blair; Doug Howlett, Tana Umaga, Keith Lowen, Jonah Lomu; Carlos Spencer, Steve Devine; Sam Broomhall, Marty Holah, Taine Randell (captain), Keith Robinson , Ali Williams, Kees Meeuws, Andrew Hore, Joe McDonnell.
Replacements: Mealamu, Hayman, Mika, So'oialo, Lee, Mehrtens, M. Robinson.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

England's man-of-the-match Jonny Wilkinson
"We'll take the positive of winning into next week"
England coach Clive Woodward
"Rugby's about confidence and momentum"
New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu
"I'm glad the coaches have shown faith in me"

Links to more International stories are at the foot of the page.

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