I am mad at Smith kicking the ball out. It shows England don’t have the right mentality
Centurion Farrell soldiers on for unlikely outcome
By Alex Bywater AT TWICKENHAM
dmg media (UK)
AS OWEN FARRELL lolloped out into a Twickenham cauldron last night, the normally phlegmatic England captain allowed himself an uncharacteristic wave to the crowd. This was Farrell’s 100th England cap and a landmark evening for him. At one stage, it looked as if his night would end in nightmare fashion. In the end, Farrell probably wouldn’t have known how to feel. When Marcus Smith booted the ball dead to end the game level at 25-25, it was hard to escape the feeling England had been lucky to salvage something. New Zealand blew it. Entering the field alongside All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, who was also bringing up a century of appearances for his country, Farrell could have been forgiven for dreaming of a night to remember. For long periods, it was exactly the opposite of that. For long periods, Farrell and England looked as if they would be blown away by New Zealand. And yet somehow, with their captain battling on through an ankle injury, England came from 25-6 down in the 70th minute to rescue a share of the spoils. New Zealand were given more than a helping hand, before England had even got going in he first half. As the man at the tiller, Farrell was unable to stem the black tide. The first 40 minutes for England were abysmal, one of the worst in recent memory. And that is saying something. Poor discipline and basic mistakes characterised the first half. In the coaching box, a blank expression lay across Eddie Jones’s face. On the field, Farrell was helpless as his team failed to fire a shot. For a sell-out Twickenham crowd paying extortionate ticket prices to watch the action, it was nowhere close to value for money. Even Farrell, never normally one to make errors, missed touch with one penalty. That was hardly the worst moment, but it was indicative of an England team performance which was nowhere near the level of which they are capable. New Zealand grabbed tries from the outstanding Dalton Papalii and Codie Taylor within only nine minutes of the first whistle. Farrell did kick a penalty in response, but inside him scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet struggled badly. His telegraphed pass was picked off easily by Papalii for the first try and he was collared at the breakdown by Ardie Savea after dawdling when the ball was out. Van Poortvliet then had a kick charged down by Scott Barrett. Jones has previous for hooking players off in the first half and van Poortvliet was lucky to escape that embarrassment. Farrell suffered injury at the end of the first half and as he left the field for the interval, the Saracens man pleaded with referee Mathieu Raynal, as if to ask if there was anything England could do in his eyes to change their fortunes. The no-nonsense official replied: ‘No.’ Raynal’s officiating was pernickety, to say the least, but the bottom line is England couldn’t get on the right side of the Frenchman. As Farrell limped on into the second half, the penalties kept on coming. It says much about Farrell’s competitive edge that he continued while nowhere near 100 per cent fit. Lesser men might have used a knock as an excuse to leave the field. But Farrell is made of sterner stuff and, with Smith taking over the kicking duties, ultimately, his resilience bore fruit. Farrell’s arguing with Raynal after Beauden Barrett’s drop goal looked like it would sum up his evening. But when Barrett was shown a yellow card after 71 minutes, New Zealand imploded. In a crazy finale, with England in what had looked a helpless position, replacement prop Will Stuart scored two tries and Freddie Steward’s effort ensured a draw no one, least of all Farrell, could have seen coming.