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Jamie George pinpoints 'areas to look at' after All Blacks loss

By PA
Alex Mitchell of England looks dejected following the International Test Match between New Zealand All Blacks and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England captain Jamie George reflected on the fine margins that allowed New Zealand to claim a 16-15 victory in their series opener in Dunedin.

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The tourists led 15-10 when Marcus Smith conjured a try for Immanuel Feyi-Waboso in the 47th minute but two penalties from Damian McKenzie saved the All Blacks from an upset at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Smith missed eight points from the kicking tee, including one penalty almost in front of the posts, as England fell just short on a day when a famous victory was there for the taking.

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“First and foremost I’m very proud of this team. Not a lot of teams come to New Zealand and do that and that shows a huge amount of growth in this team,” George told Sky Sports.

“We wanted to make people back home very proud and I think we did that with our effort. It was very fine margins.

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“There are definitely some areas to look at – scrum is one, breakdown is probably another.

“We’ll do a lot of honest work this week and make sure we go to Eden Park fully prepared. We’ll learn and we’ll grow and we’ll get better.

“We’ve got to learn fast, which is something we pride ourselves on. We’ll be as prepared as we possibly can be. There will be a few sore bodies.

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“We have to get the bodies and the minds right because this is a really exciting week for us.”

England were kept in the first half by their tenacious defending and having crept ahead through Feyi-Waboso, they then became locked in a furious tussle for control of the first Test.

“It was fine margins, two tries apiece. There wasn’t much in that at all,” head coach Steve Borthwick said.

“The second half was a real arm wrestle in the middle of the field. Neither team got into the opposition 22 very often. There wasn’t much in it.

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“Immense credit to New Zealand for taking their opportunities and getting over the line in the end. The New Zealand bench was very good and played a very smart second half.”

The All Blacks were playing their first Test since losing the World Cup final to South Africa in October and skipper Scott Barrett admitted it took time to find their feet.

“I’m proud of a group that came together in 10 days and played a pretty sharp England side,” Barrett said.

“Within that 80 minutes was bit of a reminder of what Test match footy is about.

“There were arm wrestles everywhere – set-piece, scrum battle, breakdown. Different layers of pressure. We adapted pretty well to the game and managed to get back in it and get back in front.”

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Comments

13 Comments
A
Anthony 12 days ago

This is also a new England team so they will also improve. The AB,s also missed three kicks so that cancels out Smith,s misses .
They took AB, S to the wire and it will be clise again .

B
Bull Shark 13 days ago

Considering this is the worst performance we’re likely to see from this “new” All Blacks side at the start of the Razor era - and the English should rightfully be kicking themselves for not taking their opportunities despite being better/more polished in most aspects of the game - I think England are going to have to work really hard mentally to get up for the next game.

England has a tendency to play worse after a good outing or big game. To come so agonizingly close to an historic win against a rusty AB side will take some work to get over. Gonna have to work on that Jamie George!

And the ABs will be much better next week! A few wake up calls today too. I thought they’d be much better than they were today. But there’s only up from here.

S
SadersMan 13 days ago

This is a massive win. With an untested, unknown, first hitout squad, with 10 days prep, we beat a formidable team in its 7th test match together. And we made errors galore, an easy penalty kick timed out at 78mins when up by only 1pt, conceding a penalty 43mins in extra HT phase, instead of kicking ball dead for a HT lead, a lineout throw baulk hot on attack in the last 10mins, it goes on . . . Well done ABs. I expect Razor will fashion a 300% improvement at Eden Park.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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