A dejected Kieran Read said New Zealand could have no complaints after their Rugby World Cup dominance ended with a 19-7 semi-final defeat to England.
England dethroned the All Blacks and replaced them at the top of the rankings with a dominant performance at Yokohama on Saturday, setting up a final against South Africa or Wales.
An early try from Manu Tuilagi, converted by Owen Farrell, and four George Ford penalties ended New Zealand’s quest to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third time in a row.
The defending champions had to wait until 17 minutes into the second half for a gift to Ardie Savea to get on the scoreboard, as they suffered a first World Cup defeat for 12 years.
Sam Underhill and Ben Youngs had tries ruled out in a relentless showing from Eddie Jones’ side and captain Read – who will end his Test career with a third-place play-off on Friday – knows New Zealand were not good enough.
“It’s pretty hard to put into words what it means. You’ve got to give England the credit, they came out and started really well and we just couldn’t get into the game,” said the back-rower.
“We’ll look at the game and there’ll be so many what ifs and things we could have done a lot better. At a stage like this you can’t afford that and it cost us.”
@AllBlacks skipper Kieran Read discusses his side’s first RWC defeat since 2007
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 26, 2019
Farrell felt a blistering start was key after England had faced down the Haka by forming a V.
“It’s a big game. A World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks, this is as big of a game as you can get at this stage, we thought like we’d prepared for the game well and it was all about starting the game well,” said the England skipper.
“All these big games, teams get physical, they go at each other from the off. We knew that was going to come our way and we wanted to make sure we could play our game too.
“We’ve got a number of ways of playing. We’ve got a big, powerful pack but they can use the ball as well, we want to play to space and we did that well. It’s brilliant to get there, brilliant to be a part of and we’ll enjoy this win first then make sure we prepare well.”
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