New Zealand 36 England 13: All Blacks seal series whitewash in Hamilton
New Zealand 36 England 13: The All Blacks seal a 3-0 series win despite Red Rose's second-half improvement
A second-half surge from England which saw Harlequins-bound Marland Yarde cross the whitewash was not enough to stop New Zealand wrapping up a 3-0 series win.
Julian Savea and Aaron Smith both scored twice in the opening 40 minutes as the All Blacks burst out of the blocks to take a 23-point lead into the break.
But Yarde’s try early in the second half gave Stuart Lancaster’s side hope of launching a comeback but they were unable to claw back the difference.
In the end New Zealand had the final say as Savea completed his hat-trick with time up as the All Blacks equalled the Test record of 17 consecutive victories.
The Southern Hemisphere side had lost only once at the Waikato Stadium in 11 games and, after Freddie Burns missed an early penalty from distance, the hosts crossed for their first try after four minutes.
A mistake by Harlequins’ full-back Mike Brown saw him carry the ball back into his 22 before kicking out on the full and from the resulting line-out the hosts spread the ball wide to Savea to go over in the corner.
Burns, who will play for Leicester Tigers next season, replied for England with a seventh-minute penalty but Savea would have his second try moments later.
A line-out on halfway was spread to midfield and Aaron Cruden scythed through a gap between centres Kyle Eastmond and Manu Tuilagi before sending a pass wide to Savea who collected the ball on the half-volley and cut inside to finish – Cruden adding the extras for a 12-3 lead.
England were on the ropes and, but for a forward pass by New Zealand full-back Ben Smith, Savea would have had a 12-minute hat-trick.
Burns and Cruden exchanged penalties but things went from bad to worse for England when Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola was sent to the sin-bin on 21 minutes for a high tackle on Cruden.
The All Blacks made their numerical advantage count with a third try on 27 minutes. Cory Jane broke through Yarde’s attempted tackle before feeding Aaron Smith who went over for his eighth Test try, Cruden converting.
And the scrum-half had his second of the game seven minutes later. Ben Smith broke through the Red Rose midfield before selling Yarde a dummy and passing inside to his Highlanders team-mate to score under the posts. Cruden converted to give the All Blacks a 29-6 half-time lead.
But England came out strongly after the break and had a score of their own after 43 minutes. Ben Youngs collected Joe Launchbury’s offload to break forward and take play into the New Zealand 22.
The scrum-half fed Tuilagi who was held up just short of the line but Yarde picked the ball up from the base of the ruck to burrow over for his second try in two weeks, Burns adding the extras.
Yarde went close again minutes later after a powerful maul by the England pack but the winger was held up by the All Blacks defence.
England finally appeared to have found their feet and replacements Danny Cipriani and Luther Burrell both went close but resolute defending from the home side allowed them to clear.
With ten minutes remaining, Yarde made a 50-metre break from inside his own half but he was unable to out-sprint the covering Savea who tackled him into touch eight metres from the line.
New Zealand played out the final seven minutes with 14 men after Wyatt Crockett was penalised at the break down but with the final play, Savea did secure his third try as his side equalled the record set by the All Black side from 1965-69 and South Africa in 1997-98.