New Zealand Maori impress in win over England

England’s tour ended with a 35-28 defeat to New Zealand Maori in what was a great game to watch.

England stormed to a 13-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes, with two penalties from Charlie Hodgson and a try from Steffon Armitage. The ambition they showed in keeping the ball alive was admirable, and it looked as though it could have been another impressive victory.

But the response by the Maori was mightily impressive. Hodgson had another penalty attempt which rebounded off the upright, and the home side ran it back through several phases and completed one of the tries of the season when Hosea Gear went over in the corner.

Liam Messam scored their second try shortly afterwards when Phil Dowson made a mistake at number 8, but England regained the lead through tries from Danny Care and Chris Ashton, the latter after an interception from Charlie Hodgson.

The Maori then scored two tries of their own in the second half, and Luke McAlister closed the game out with two penalties at the end.

There were several mistakes and missed tackles from both sides, but the way England looked to play with width early on was encouraging and proved that a strong performance in defeat can be a good thing! They needed a Jonny Wilkinson to close the game out at the end, but the experience will surely have done some good for players like Dowson and Chris Robshaw.

Some may even have done enough to earn a place in England’s Elite Player Squad due to be named next month, but we won’t get started on the pointlessness of that announcement!

22 thoughts on “New Zealand Maori impress in win over England

  1. Robshaw had a briliant game and although I’m not a fan of his, Hodgson was very impressive. Granted, he made a few mistakes, but generally controlled the game well and he looked a hell of a lot better than Geraghty, who replaced him early in the 2nd half. The second half was very disappointing after such a good start, with big question marks over our defence, but there were a lot of positives from the game (mainly in the 1st half) and just goes to show we can compete with big teams. I think Tait will be very lucky to be selected ever again after an absolute shocker, which has been his general form all season

  2. Many UK journanlists are reporting England’s defeat by NZ Maori as if it were a victory. That is the defining difference between Northern and Southern Hemisphere rugby. Down here a defeat hurts. Players who accepts that losing is OK are soon replaced by players hungry for victory.

    We are currently celebrating the All Whites 2 draws against Slovakia and Italy as if they were victories. That is because we accept that the NZ football team is a minnow at the FIFA World Cup. WInning is an unrealistic and impossible goal.

    England are the “All Whites” of World Rugby. The difference is that our World Cup football team is partly comprised of amateurs yet plays against the top professoinals of world football. In contrast, no expense is spared for the England Rugby Team. These guys are paid extremely well, but just do not deliver the results such salaries would demand in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Unfortunately Ireland, Wales and England all view themselves as Rubgy heavyweights …. but in the presence of Southern Hemishphere sides often act like the minnows of World Rugby that they are. In NZ, Ireland and Wales have just been thrashed. England soundly beaten by Maori team where many players would be lucky to make a NZ B side.

    View those games as victories if you like. You are fooling no one but yourselves.

  3. Hi Thomas. We’re under no illusions here – this was our second string side, and they gave a good account of themselves. We’re not celebrating at all – we did that on Saturday – but when England are underperforming to such an extent, drawing positives from a game like this is important.

    Our expectations for this match were pretty low. It was not a Test match, it’s the end of a very long season, there were a lot of new faces in the side, and at the moment, we wouldn’t be confident of our first team beating the Maori, so we’ll take a close game and a good performance.

  4. Soundly beaten? NZ won by 7 points – I would personally not call that soundly beaten Thomas. Our team today consisted mainly of players that have never, and/or will never make the England squad for a test match. The players put in a good performance against a team, which we all admit was better, but yet we very nearly beat (in fact we were winning the first half quite comfortably). We are under on illusions – we are not the dominate force that we once were, but that said, I would not say NZ are either. We know against the top teams in the world, England are not good enough at the moment, but personally I would not be so confident in NZ’s ability – we all know how NZ shine for 3 years and when it comes to RWC year, seem to fade away.

  5. I say England was “soundly beaten” because here we judge largely games by the second half. Rugby is an 80 minute game.

    If you look at most of the articles about the Irish test by NZ journalists, much of the focus is on NZ’s failure to defend their line, and the failure to push on in the second half and capitalise on their early scoring (with Ireland one man down). That was in a game where the All Blacks won 66-28!

    The NZ Maori Team is not NZ B. There are many players in that side who will not get a Super 15 contract – let alone play for NZ.

    Most importantly, the England game overflows with money. Many of the Maori players are semi-professional at best. I am sure that a number of them will find contracts from English clubs thrust under their noses in the next few months offering sums they could never earn here. Who knows, in a few years time some of them may even be playing for England.

    There are so many things wrong with the English game – especially when you consider that it does not suffer from a lack of money or a lack of players. The biggest problem is blindness to its inherent weakness. NZ Rugby is not without problems – but despite its limitations, it has generally shown a capacity for renewal and maintenance of standards. Sean Fitzpatrick at 92 tests remains our most capped player. No one has ever played a 100 tests for the ABs. We are less tolerant of players (and coaches) resting on their past glories – and more encouraging of new players coming through. That means even victories are analysed carefully, and defeat is not tolerated. Even by “only” 7 points. Even by a young “B” team.

  6. Thomas – just a few points to make. Have you actually read the other comments on this blog? I’m guessing not after your comment “The biggest problem is blindness to its inherent weakness”, regarding “there are so many things wrong with the English game”. We know our weaknesses and we permanently criticise the decisions that are made beyond our control. We constantly strive and desire better, however, that does not mean you cannot give praise as and where it is deserved (even if you lose the game). Secondly, If you “largely” judge games by the second half, then why make the comment “Rugby is an 80 minute game”, because surely you must realise winning the 2nd half, after being beaten in the 1st half, does not then warrant the term “soundedly beaten”. Thirdly, I love your comment about your players not reaching 100 caps – Jason Leonard (just for example) was one of the best probs ever and was picked on ability, not “tolerance”. Same can be said for the likes of BOD (IRL), George Gregan (AUS), George Smith (AUS), Fabien Pelous (FRA), Gareth Thomas (WAL) and Stephen Larkham (AUS), just to name a few.

    Everyone always comments on how arrogant the English are – funny, you’re comments seem to be bordering that line, if not crossing over the line.

    Either way, whatever our personal opinions are, I thought it was an very enjoyable match to watch and look forward to our next encounter.

  7. Tommy,

    I enjoyed the game for what it was. It was great spectacle – and I particularly enjoyed the fact that England continued to try and run the ball. That should be applauded. I hope the defeats on tour will not discourage this approach to the game.

    There are no greater critics of NZ Rugby than those that live here. I accept also that there are those in the UK who cast a critical eye over their own teams – but I am not sure if the criticism is as harsh as it is here. Nor am I convinced that some of the central problems in English Rugby have been clearly identified.

    This is important because whatever happens in English rugby will ultimately affect us all. The politics and money in English Rugby dominates the development of world rugby.

    My main point is that if a NZ coach came back from a short tour with the same results – it is unlikely that the coach would retain his job. I am not saying that is necessarily a good thing – just that the criticism here of our own failures is stronger (and more dramatic) than it is in England.

    The players you noted (who played more than 100 games) are/were all great players. All would have looked great in a black jersey. However I am quite sure none of them would have played much more than 80 tests for NZ. The competition for places in the team here is simply too strong.

    That essentially is the strength of NZ rugby.

    Our strength is not based on paying numbers (other countries have more) nor on money (our game is cheap compared to France/England – or even Australia). It is based on the fact that great players will be dropped quite quickly if they are not performing. If Dan Carter had continued his poor run of form, it is conceivable he would not have made our Work Cup Team for next year. It would not take 5 years for him to gradually leave the team.

    I believe that NZ should try and be more tolerant of the occasional defeat. Sadly, we have had the odd experience of defeat over the last few years – but I am not sure that it is getting any easier to accept.

    Every player who puts the black jersey on – no matter whether he is a first string player or a “star” – is expected to play to win. There is no such thing as an honourable defeat for the All Blacks. Until your teams can adopt that attitude, I suspect the win/loss ratio between NZ and Northern Hemisphere Teams will remain heavily in our favour.

    And yes …. that sort of attitude does breed certain arrogance. It also underlies most sportsmen who consistently win. It is a special sort of arrogance to refuse to accept defeat.

  8. Geez Thomas, as a fellow Kiwi I’d just like to say – “Ease up with the diatribe cuz”. Every test playing nation has probs and NZ is no damn different. Let’s all accept that Kiwis are very arrogant when it comes to rugby and the All Blacks – it’s just hard not to be when we are brought up to believe that we are the best, will always be the best and that the AB’s losing is unacceptable. Its also hard not to be when we are the most winningest (amercanism) team in all world sport (80+% I read somewhere).

    Anyway, if Hosea gear is not in the AB’s for tri nations and isn’t the most lethal try scorer in world rugby at this moment – then I’ll eat a vuvusula (sorry for the spelling).


  9. Rants aside, I’d just like to say what a game! Awesome haka too, with the ABs making too much of an issue of it, it was nice to see a genuine, threatening challenge before the game. Agree with Mike about Hosea Gear too, the try he finished after and England penalty hit the post was one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

    Just to say, I don’t think English people just accept defeat. Just ask Johnno who was severly disappointed after the game. However, given how poorly the national team has been going a record of P5 W2 D1 L2 represents a good return considering how tough the fixtures were,

  10. firstly thomas there is only one player(aaron smith) whom doesnt have a super 15 contract for the team that played england and he was brought in because smylie was injured,(7 have previously played 4 the abs), so stop exagurating. secondly you say many of these players wouldn’t make a nzb team and yet the maori beat the best of the rest in the ba bas game. and thirdly the maori have 7 players not available in the abs s

  11. Its a bit late in the day to add a comment, but having just read this thread I would like to add a response to Thomas and any other England Rugby detractors:
    England have made the final of the last two World Cups, winning the first of those as we know, I’m not so sure anyone should suggest England are “Minnows of World Rugby”, a bit of an insult really and not one any 1st Team player from the Southern Hemisphere would agree with if asked. Hutch and Tommy covered the other positives well.

  12. Thomas mate I’m a kiwi and you’re out of line. England is not a minnow in the rugby world and are not like the All Whites at football – that’s just rubbish. They have as many World Cup wins as us and their’s was far more recent that ours. You also seem to think that if any of our top players are off their game they’ll be replaced quickly. Not so. Look at Dan Carter. He was off his game at the last World Cup and he was still played rather than the in form Nick Evans. Last year when he was injured NZs lack of depth at number 10 was pretty clear when guys like Stephen Donald just didn’t perform. Guys like Dan Carter, McCaw, Gregan, Wilkinson etc just can’t be replaced by the second best players because their is such a gulf between the super-elite and the rest of them. If Carter and McCaw aren’t on top of their game next year (or even worse, injured) then I don’t rate our chances against South Africa. I already think we’ll be hard pushed if we are on top of our game.

    Also, Thomas you keep talking about England’s wealth relative to other countries. Yes, relative to other countries they are a rich union. Relative to their main domestic sport they are a poor cousin both in terms of funding and the amount of interest in the sport, so most of the sporting talent and youth development is focused on football, and I think that is English rugby’s problem.

    England are coming right just in time for the World Cup. They are finally starting to gell in the backs and play good attacking rugby. The last game against Aussie was one of the best I’ve seen for a while. I think it’s great for rugby in general if more countries are real contenders for the World Cup. I think England have a far greater chance than they did a year or 2 ago. Wales could challenge as well if they get their mental bugbears against the Southern Hemisphere teams sorted.

  13. Just another point to make on Thomas’s quote “The politics and money in English Rugby dominates the development of world rugby”. For your information, England do not actually spend in wages or investment of the game, as much as other country’s do i.e. the French. Rugby in this country is way down the pecking line of top sports, and our financial investment into the sport is comparative to this. Also, if we are “minnows” in world rugby then how do we effect the development of world rugby? That simply doesn’t make sense! Absolutely no disrespect for them, but many would feel Russia are “minnows” in world rugby – do you feel they dominate the development of world rugby? Also, as you seem to believe you are far better than us (even though your fellow country men and women disagree with you), surely you (nz) have more effect on the development of world rugby than us English, or any other nation for that matter?

    In all honest Thomas, I personally feel you have no idea what you are talking about and would perhaps recommend that in future you have some form of knowledge about the topic of conversation before making drastic statements

  14. Amazing reaction to the sage Thommo comments which were completely misunderstood by the semi-literate reactionaries.

    The point is though my fellow NH dumbos, England is second to China in player numbers and have reached the RWC final a couple of time through sheer luck, not good management. They play a brand of football that no one respects and their supporters rejoice in their slave trading past. Supporters constantly rail against NZ because they are so jealous of a country that has a team that not only wins a higher percentage of games than any team in contact sport, but plays with ethics and elan.

    To all the disaffected Kiwis, when there is a blip on the record, given them to us. We will take them, particularly the coaches.

    PS We saw the All Blacks step up into the big league last week. Only France in the 6N could stand that sort of pace and precision for more than ten minutes, but not much longer. I fear for Australia, who would win the 6N, but not undefeated.

    The Shaghai Doctor

    PS The IRB does not recognise the player numbers in China because they refuse to pay and not get a vote in what is a racially based Gerrymander.

  15. Interesting point of view.

    Firstly, no one has even mentioned being jealous of NZ. Yes they play good rugby, but I am in no way jealous of them. I am English. I am proud to be English and I support my national team, England. So why would I be jealous?

    I particularly liked your comment about England reaching the RWC a couple of times through sheer luck – we won in 2003, after dominating the world of rugby for about 2 years prior, and had one of the best managers in sport. It was no act of luck we won, but good preparation and good performance throughout the RWC campaign. Our RWC 2007 campaign was embarrassing – but then NZ didn’t even make the play offs! You also made a reference to being second to China in players numbers – I can’t find that stastic anyway, however it has absolutely no relevance to reaching a RWC final! As it happens, NZ – although vastly superior to every other team, in your opinion – have only won the RWC once and only reached the finals one other time! Both England and Australia have had more success in the RWC then NZ. No one is denying that when it comes to World rankings, NZ are very successful, but that was not the point of view for your comments.

    You’ve also commented saying that Thommo’s comments were completely misunderstood by the semi literate – I actually happen to have a degree in English, and once again I find myself urging you to form a proper argument instead of this arrogant and bias belief that NZ are amazing, England and the rest of the world are awful and you feel you have some kind of right to use your own opinions as facts and be mildly abusive towards others.

  16. Tommy, You’re a prat! England has an unholy obsession with World Cups. Yes, they did win one in 2003 – partly by outspending every other time by a significant margin. But they cannot sustain that winning. And yes they won in that other code in 1966 are unlikey to do so again.

    The massive number of NZ players and coaches (and those from other SH nation) who prop up the game in the NH a testimony the difference between the two worlds of rugby. We couldn’t afford your players …. but we don’t need them. NZ coaches are in involved in almost every rugby national team.

    England buys talent – we breed it and train it. England wins occasionally. NZ wins consistently.

    Winning consistently is the key. The statisitcs of over 100 years are undeniable. A recent article says it all ….

    ” Barring a major reversal of fortune the All Blacks will become the most prolific pointscorers in test rugby history on Saturday night. New Zealand have been steadily gaining on France as the all-time leading scorers and now need just seven points in the Investec Tri Nations Test against South Africa here to climb to the top rung.

    In 660 tests, France have scored 11,792 points while the All Blacks have reached 11,786 in just 462 tests.

    Given the New Zealanders have racked up 169 points in the first four tests of the year, the record is sure to fall and they should open up a clear lead before France next play, in November.

    The All Blacks need just seven tries to overtake France’s 1561 in the all-time tryscoring stakes and three conversions to be the first team to land 1000 of them in tests.

    New Zealand and Argentina are the only leading nations to have landed more conversions than penalties.

    Factbox on the points scored by major test-playing rugby nations
    (tests played, won, points for, tries, conversions, penalties):

    France 660 364 11,792 1561 907 999
    New Zealand 462 – 345 – 11,786 – 1555 – 997 – 953
    Australia 509 256 10,260 1315 766 959
    Wales 612 316 9860 1325 755 905
    England 629 332 9837 1351 767 955
    Argentina 331 183 9513 1244 769 688
    South Africa 386 246 8713 1093 699 747
    Ireland 593 248 7924 1014 574 793
    Scotland 592 251 7542 1019 563 776″

  17. Yet again, why the need for abusive language? This is a rugby blog, not a football blog.

    All I have been doing is commenting on the previous posts and pointing out the flaws. If you read them, I’m not actually the one who raised the RWC issue, however I responded to the post. That said, every sport and every nation looks to “world cups” to ascertain a teams ability and strength. All along I have have agreed with the fact that NZ are a good rugby nation (in fact, one of the best), however, again, if you have read the previous posts, I have responded to the comments made regarding the “slagging off” of England and fellow readers of this blog – namely started by you. A good example of this (reading the comments and pointing out the flaws) is below:

    In one of your first posts you commented on how “The politics and money in English Rugby dominates the development of world rugby”, then you said England are “minnows in world rugby”, and now you are saying “England buys talent – we breed it and train it”. These are very different statements regarding the same issue. So which is it? Are England responsible for the development of world rugby or is it NZ?

    That is just one example of how contradictory many of your comments have been.

    In my opinion, we employ far too many foreigners in our premiership, and I personally think this hinders our grass roots and player development scheme’s, however, that said I do feel we produce good rugby players – but for reasons that I do not know, they rarely seem (at least in the last 6yrs) to be able to convert their club play into international.

    If you also notice with my posts, I have asked for people to form arguments based on facts and not opinions – which this time you have – so thankyou

  18. My comment about England being the minnows of world rugby was deliberately provocative. However, relative to your player numbers and the amount of money spent, England is relatively unsuccessful in international rugby. Other teams enjoy greater success with less money and less players. Parodoxically, despite the lack of penetration of English players and coaches in other national/club competitions – the politics and money of English rugby still dominates how the game develops.

    England does have a lot exciting young talent – but the strucutre of English Rugby does not nuture it and allow it to fully develop. As I noted earlier, even great All Blacks often only play 50 or 60 tests. There are no All Black centenarians (yet) because we keep turning over players far earlier than most other teams. We celebrate tries. Every game is played to win.

  19. Thomas,

    I don’t know if you intend to come across as overly arrogant and demeaning but either way you have achieved it. Your derision of English rugby and “greater than thou” attitude based on the achievements of other people, whether fellow countrymen or not, rather than your own is frankly pig-headed. You do our country no favours in its attempts to convince people that NZ and her people will be great hosts to rugby fans around the world.

    Rather than examining statistics I think you would do well to look at the example set by some of the greatest All Blacks ever, such as Michael Jones and Jonah Lomu, and learn something about humility. This article was not about claiming that England was the greatest team in the world. The English fans in this thread did not make such claims either. Their point was that the English team were showing encouraging signs by the end of the tour, which they were.

    Finally, the reality is that the point of the World Cup is to prove beyond doubt who the greatest team in the world is and people are right to argue that WC wins is the most important stat of all. So bring on next year and hopefully the end of the NZ WC drought!!! :-)

  20. The point of the RWC is to make money. It is not the Holy Grail. 10 year old kids playing rugby on a frosty morning is the Holy Grail of rugby. The fascination with the RWC, rather than enjoying game at all levels, is a blight on the game.

    As for Jonah Lomu being humble …. I can only assume you have never met him. Jonah played soe amazing rugby – especially considering his condition. But Jonah is not a man of principle like MIchael Jones. Your inability to discern the difference between the 2 players is testimony to the point I make. Both are great players, but only one is a great man.


  21. Again I totally disagree.

    The RWC was started in the amateur era. It was first proposed back in the 1950s – back in the good old days when money wasn’t a factor. The Tri-Nations and Super 14 competitions are truly money-focused: the inclusion of Pacific Island teams would be good for rugby as a whole, but instead Sanzar has introdcued even more games between Trinations teams because that’s better for the wallet.

    The World Cup is the only event in which the minnows of rugby, some of which still have amateur players, can get matches against the big teams. If anything this makes it truer to the spirit of rugby than any other international competition. If it was purely about the money then NZ wouldn’t have gotten awarded the 2011 RWC – other countries offer bigger stadiums and chances to increase the broader appeal of the game which in turn would result in bigger financial returns.

    As for Jonah, I have had the pleasure of meeting him and training with him while the All Blacks were based in Palmerston North and I was playing for Manawatu. As an example of his humility during this time the ABs had a public training run in Eketahuna and long after training had finished he was still signing autographs and spending time with fans when other ABs couldn’t be bothered and had buggered off. I think it’s understandable that you misinterpret media shyness with aloofness but my personal experience has shown me that the biggest superstar of the game is humble, although MJ is even more so. Of course this is purely subjective and I don’t have stats to back it up… ;-)

  22. Sorry, I don’t totally disagree – forgot your other point. Kids and amateur players playing rugby for the sheer love of the game, mothers and fathers bringing quatered oranges on at half time, and sausage rolls and sandwiches at the after-match function are what it’s all about it. It’s easy enough to forget that as a rugby fan who is at times disaffected by the unfortunate by-products of the professional era.

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