- Brad Barritt lauds England defence after three-try New Zealand win
- “New Zealand is a major scalp for us and will give us huge confidence” – Saracens centre
Brad Barritt and his centre partner Manu Tuilagi may have been responsible for lifting Twickenham to its feet with stunning second-half tries but the Saracens man believes England’s defence was the deciding factor in the record victory over New Zealand.
Fly half Owen Farrell kicked 15 unanswered points within 42 minutes to put Stuart Lancaster’s team in control, but after two quick tries from Julian Savea and Kieran Read got the visitors back into the game, scores from Barritt, Chris Ashton and Tuilagi secured the memorable victory.
And while the 26-year-old was understandably elated with his first Test try in 11 matches, Barritt put the 38-21 victory down to overwhelming the All Blacks with the offensive defence Backs Coach Andy Farrell so often talks about.
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“When we had the opportunity to spark we really took our chances but the hard work was definitely done up front,” said Barritt, who leads England’s back line defence from No.12.
“In the first 40 minutes we got off the line, our line-speed and our physicality was unbelievable and that set the tone for everything else in the game.
“The defence is a hallmark of what this team is about. The way the boys want to fight for each other and put their bodies on the line. The hard work we do in training with Andy Farrell, our defensive coordinator, getting the line-speed and the spacing for adequate width, alongside having really good individual technique, is setting the tone for this team. When you get those turnovers it is a huge opportunity to strike.”
While one victory, even over the world champions, does not create world-beaters, the scale of the achievement by an England team giving away 582 caps of Test experience to New Zealand cannot be underestimated.
The win was only England’s seventh over New Zealand; the 17 point margin of victory eclipsed the previous best of 13 from 1936; only once in 478 Tests have the All Blacks suffered a heavier defeat; and it was the first time they have been kept scoreless at half time in 14 years.
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Barritt said he’ll “never forget the unbelievable feeling” of that try and feels it came at a crucial juncture in the game, minutes after New Zealand had trimmed the lead to a single point.
Adding that the scalp will be a lasting confidence boost until the squad meet up again in January, he added: “The timing of the try was huge because the momentum had turned to New Zealand but we rallied behind the posts said ‘we’ve got to get stuck in now and get some points on the board’.
“It was a turning point which sparked a couple of other tries and we got a great lead.
“The guys are on cloud nine but we feel it is just another footstep on the road for this team. We’re disappointed not to have had more wins during this series but to have taken New Zealand is a major scalp for us and will give us huge confidence ahead of a very busy international season.”