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'Tells you everything about England' - Marcus Smith's final play questioned

By Ian Cameron
England's fly-half Marcus Smith claps the fans after the Autumn Nations Series International rugby union match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham stadium, in London, on November 19, 2022. (Photo by Ian Kington / AFP) (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)

England flyhalf Marcus Smith’s decision to kick the ball out to draw their crunch Autumn Nations game with New Zealand has been questioned online – despite England’s heroic late fightback to snatch the result.

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England remarkably snatched the 25-25 draw with New Zealand against the odds when Stuart grabbed his second try on the stroke of full-time.

The replacement crashed over from close range after a free-flowing move and Smith was able to successfully kick the conversion in front of the posts.

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But boos greeted the decision by Smith to kick the ball out of play with the clock in the red after the All Blacks had restarted the game.

While the Twickenham crowd wanted the hosts to go for victory, they witnessed only the second ever draw in 43 meetings between the sides, which was all the more impressive considering England trailed by 19 points with nine minutes left.

New Zealand flyhalf Richie Mo’unga admitted it ‘was a bit surprising’ to see Smith boot the kick the ball out with the game still in the offing.

Skipper Owen Farrell backed the call, branding it the right decision given England’s position on the field.

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It was remarked upon online of course, with most criticising what came across as an overly conservative decision from the young playmaker.

“Tells you everything about England with Marcus Smith kicking it out,” wrote one fan. “That score line and last 10 mins has made sure Jones will escape being highly criticised. Want to get behind England but we are miles off a grand slam or World Cup next year.”

“Apparently a draw is acceptable to Marcus Smith. Whatever happened to playing for the win?” wrote another.

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“What an anticlimax to a game of test rugby,” Tweeted another fan. “England (or should I say Marcus Smith) bottled it. They had the all blacks on the ropes but chose the safe (cowards) option to settle for a draw. Disappointing end. Boooooo.”

Mike Cooper of Rucked Over wrote: “England can congratulate themselves on a hell of a comeback, albeit I didn’t like Marcus Smith (who was excellent)’s call to kick it off. But if they’re honest, my gosh they shouldn’t have had to go to the well. Power and territory dominance, but just so lazy close to the line.”

Some did defend the decision by Smith – who had a strong game otherwise – to protect the draw. “So funny. England kick it out – negative play. England keep it in and lose – They’d be called arrogant and heavily criticised. 100% the right call.”

additional reporting PA

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