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Tale of the tape: England vs New Zealand

05 December 2012

  • England analysts Michael Hughes and Duncan Locke review All Blacks win
  • Man of the Match Tom Wood hit 39 rucks, try-scorer Brad Barritt made 20 tackles
England Analysts Duncan Locke (L) and Mike Hughes

Photo: Getty Images

The score line is the only statistic that matters, evidenced by England's immense delight after the record 38-21 defeat of New Zealand during final QBE International at Twickenham. But more detailed analysis can also provide a view on the game so RFU.com called on the unique insight of the people who supply the England coaches with in-game data, analysts Michael Hughes and Duncan Locke, to see what other stories the match stats have to tell. This is what they had to say:

“In the build up to the game against New Zealand, the talk in the camp was that if England got their game right in three key areas, they could compete with the world champions. The three areas were: energy and intensity around the field, especially in defence; strength at the set-piece; and being clinical when chances to score presented themselves.

While possession and territory were broadly even – England had 50 per cent possession and 53 per cent territory – a quick look at the stats show England excelled in the facets of the game outlined above, which led to a record victory over the All Blacks.

England centre Manu Tuilagi breaks away from New Zealand captain Richie McCaw during 38-21 victory at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

The most illuminating statistic was that while England made more line breaks than in the single score defeats to Australia and South Africa, crucially, we also turned those line breaks into points. England made one line break against Australia (for 0 points) and three line breaks against South Africa (for three points) but against New Zealand England converted six line breaks into 20 points.

Manu Tuilagi provided the assists for the first two tries and scored the third, making the most of his nine carries in the game and getting over the gain line with eight of them. Chris Robshaw, yet again, was the top carrier with 12 and his Harlequins teammate Mike Brown, for the second successive game, got over the gain line with 100 per cent of his carries (eight of eight).  

England’s defence – led by outstanding try scorer Brad Barritt, who made 20 tackles – forced New Zealand into 21 turnovers compared to England’s 13, which gave us the platform and ball to play from. Robshaw was just one behind on 19 tackles at 100 per cent success rate, with Joe Launchbury, one of the finds of the QBE Internationals, on 16.

England lock Geoff Parling rises to claim a line out

Photo: Getty Images

This is set in the context of how good New Zealand’s attack was: until the last three plays of the match they were deadly in our “Red Zone”, turning two incursions into two tries and 14 points. Conversely, these were both at the start of the second half, which shows how England kept the visitors out of the 22 for the entirety of the opening 40.

Man of the Match Tom Wood was hugely effective at the contact area, hitting 39 rucks and making a steal, while Robshaw attended 27 and Geoff Parling 26 (with one steal).

Parling was a big part in the delivery of quality ball from a line out which operated at 86 per cent success rate, with the Leicester man claiming seven throws. England won 11 of 13 line outs, with 10 positive deliveries from 11 throws. Tuilagi’s stunning break for Chris Ashton’s try game came from the first phase of a Tom Youngs to Parling delivery.

England’s scrum was similarly strong, with an 80 per cent success rate. In winning four of their five put ins, England won two penalties and had playable ball from two others.

A mention must go to our goal kickers too, who built and then maintained England’s score at crucial times. Owen Farrell, still only 21, slotted four difficult penalties from four chances in the opening 42 minutes and debutant Freddie Burns added two from two after coming on with 15 minutes to play.”