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England stun All Blacks with Twickenham triumph

England ended an indifferent run of autumn internationals with one of their most spectacular victories in living memory. After defeats to Australia and South Africa, they defeated the world champions New Zealand in a performance of outstanding verve and commitment. A scoreline of 38-21, England’s largest ever margin of victory over the All Blacks, underlines the extent to which England raised their game.

Coach Stuart Lancaster was exultant. "To put that scoreline on an All Black side that good is way beyond what we hoped for," he said. "You got a sense during the course of the week that we were building towards a real special performance. I'm just chuffed for the boys."

England began to believe after a first half in which they opened up a 12-0 lead with three penalties and a drop goal, while All Blacks legend Dan Carter missed two relatively straightforward penalties. If England thought they could grind their way to victory though, they were forced to rethink in a tempestuous second half.

After England increased their lead to 15 points, the All Blacks stormed back with two quick tries in succession. Successful conversions moved New Zealand to within a point of England, and the Twickenham crowd waited for the world champions to assert their authority.

The hosts’ response was both impressive and astonishing. England, far from looking to defend, fought back with three tries in eight minutes, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi going over to restore a substantial advantage.

A late flurry from the All Blacks restored a little respectability to the scoreline, but that is not a situation they have often had to contemplate. Captain Richie McCaw acknowledged that England had deserved victory. "England played particularly well," he said, "Credit to them, they denied us the ball and forced us into mistakes. It's the nature of football and we were on the back end of it."

England can look forward to the Six Nations and the 2015 World Cup with the best morale boost imaginable.

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