Rugby

MIKE BROWN: England’s startling comeback against New Zealand was a glimpse of what they can do

MIKE BROWN: England’s startling comeback against New Zealand was a glimpse of what they can do…but certain issues need addressing after Marcus Smith decided to play it safe and not go for the win

  • England’s late comeback against New Zealand was a show of what they can do
  • But they should have gone for the win in the end instead of playing it safe
  • Marcus Smith didn’t show the same comeback mentality he does for Harlequins
  • Match-winning decision-making is something that England need to address

England showed what they can do in the last eight minutes which leaves you asking, where was that attacking game in the first 72? And the decision to kick the ball out to finish the match seems to sum up England’s mindset. It was as if they were happy with the draw.

That is not Marcus Smith playing for Quins. How many times have Quins made a comeback? If he had a Quins shirt on he would not have accepted the draw and that shows something deeper in the environment. Why is it different with England?

They had a long way to go to score but why not go for it for at least a couple of phases. For me a draw is the same as a loss, you haven’t won and I can’t see New Zealand not going for it in the same situation. 

Smith decided to kick the ball out on last play with the match level and England on top

Marcus Smith decided to kick the ball out on last play with the match level and England on top

Fly-half Marcus Smith (middle) lead in attack as England clawed their way back with late tries

Fly-half Marcus Smith (middle) lead in attack as England clawed their way back with late tries

All the momentum was against them, New Zealand were down to 14 players and were scrambling so why not go for it?

England suddenly realised the clock was ticking and needed to go for it but they should have been doing that from that start. 

It happens quite a lot with England and it is something they need to address. They were lucky they were not three scores down at the break. But when they started pushing the envelope things really started to happen.

Smith stepped in to kick conversions for England as he scored nine points during the match

England's stars were on top in the closing exchanges against a struggling All Blacks side

England’s stars were on top in the closing exchanges against a struggling All Blacks side

Smith stepped in to kick conversions for England as he scored nine points during the match

Smith stepped in to kick conversions for England as he scored nine points during the match

They looked so much better taking the All Blacks on. Smith made a line break, Freddie Steward came into the game and England started putting New Zealand under pressure.

South Africa are in town next week and England have got to start that game like they finished this one — barring kicking it out for a draw.

We know what South Africa are about but they are there for the taking. They are not if England turn up and accept whatever the Springboks throw at them like they did in the first half on Saturday.


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