That was a great, compelling test contest in which I was sharp from start to finish and one of the best performances in England was in a long time. But it was a test they should have won.
First, they slipped that precious 15-point lead, but even then they showed great courage and conviction despite the fact that they were off most of the second half, but they put themselves in a position to get the winning goal for the drop. – jump over – and blew it out.
Owen Farrell, who had rejoiced in the first half with only his third goal in Test Rugby, was in position and George Ford too. It was all there for the taking, but England was not all on the same page.
England, despite the outcome, can be proud of their action against New Zealand
The attackers were hammering, but not in a controlled way with a tricky target in mind. They only tried to make hard yards.
And then, with the circumstances as bad as ever, Courtney Lawes, who otherwise enjoyed a huge match for England, threw it wide to the right and bounced the ball. That was the game in many ways, forget Sam Underhill's brilliant but unfortunately rejected attempt.
Owen Farrell scored only his third goal in Rugby Test and had further chances
I confidently predict that two or three of the big knockout matches in Japan will be won next year by a drop kick and that England will have to get the routine sorted at death.
There must be a phone call and the scrum needs half of it to send it as a policeman, just like Matt Dawson did when we implemented our zigzag game in 2003.
I thought the Underhill attempt was a 50-50 call-how good was he doing, while Beauden Barrett was frayed? – but the point of such calls is that they can go against you.
The referee can not refuse a fall goal, given the technology we have! That is the biggest lesson to learn from this game.
I also try to understand why Dylan Hartley was immersed after a great 40-minute opening in which the line-out in England was solid. He enjoyed his best game in England since their record-breaking run.
Dylan Hartley had a great 40-minute opening and it was surprising that he was being subdued
After the break England lost five line-outs and that is not all for Jamie George. New Zealand and Brodie Retallick decided to attack the attack of England, but equally the home team fatally lost the rhythm that served them so well. Do not attempt to repair what is not broken.
And there is another element in that call. As number 10 and goalkicker Farrell has enough on his plate. I'm just not sure if he's in power when he's flying half. Inside the middle, yes – fly half, I worry. In the second half he got a bit ragged by his own standards.
These are matters that need to be addressed, but none of them detract from a performance that everyone involved can be proud of. The audience acknowledged that despite their disappointment and I am now sure that England is at the beginning of a very strong reflection after a difficult year or so.
During the first 38 minutes of the first half, England was priceless – the best we've seen in many years – but it was disappointing to see how they lost their concentration in those last two minutes.
The line speed in defense had been brilliant until then, but they let Ryan Crotty make too many easy meters in the run-up to Damian McKenzie's attempt and were then on the back foot.
Ben Youngs mixed beautifully – it was so – intelligent rugby and a joy to watch
When Farrell, of all people, pumped the ball into contact with the remaining seconds immediately from the restart, allowing New Zealand to establish another strong position from which they won a penalty. I'm pretty sure he tried to kick long and high to give New Zealand little or no chance of a counterattack, but it was a costly mistake.
Until that moment he was perfectly perfect, with England defying the circumstances to play bright, precise rugby. It was so encouraging to see and proved that New Zealand is not a supermen. They can make mistakes like everyone else, when they are under pressure.
The conditions were terrible, the rain was so heavy, but the quality was enormous from the beginning and the English defense. All praise for defense coach John Mitchell for that.
Everyone was clear. Underhill was on the side of tackling something that moved and he did it to perfection. Rarely do New Zealand sides have such a tackler in their faces. Ten tackles – most of them samples – in the first half alone.
Itoje was in charge of the line-out – Hartley threw very well – and was loose everywhere, along with Kyle Sinckler and Wilson, while his discipline was much better.
Chris Ashton barely managed to score after only two minutes
Ben Youngs mixed beautifully, it was so – intelligent rugby and a joy to watch. And self-assured too, that time they quickly moved deep into their own 22 to create a better kick opportunity for Henry Slade about a team with an enormous belief in their own abilities.
Chris Ashton scored after only two minutes – of course he did – and that line-out crackled from England to recharge Hartley, was the textbook of the small delay after catching the ball, set to put everyone in the right position and then the perfect timing of Ashton and Farrell and other backs to participate in the battle to speed up.
But despite everything England went through the tunnel, only five points up. New Zealand would undoubtedly have been the happier team in the changing rooms halfway. They came out and effectively won the second half 6-0.
It does not sound much, but they have taken control and are not mistaken that this was huge for them. Or put it this way, a defeat on Saturday would have knocked them back a bit after they had recently lost to South Africa and also home in a second game against the Boks houses that they could have easily lost. New Zealand is now on the right track again.