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November 16, 2009

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Home » Sports » Rugby

Kiwis, England win but fail to impress

LUKE McAlister's five penalties helped lackluster New Zealand beat Italy 20-6 on Saturday, and a late try by England winger Matt Banahan silenced the home fans' boos in a 16-9 triumph over Argentina.

Due to meet at Twickenham this Saturday, both the All Blacks and England hoped for impressive performances. Although the English came up with a hard-earned victory to take some of the heat off manager Martin Johnson, there were more negatives than positives for both teams.

Before about 80,000 fans at the San Siro in Milan, New Zealand had Ben Smith, Mike Delany and Tamati Ellison making their test debuts and the changes led to errors and lack of fluency.

Hooker Coray Flynn scored the game's only try and the All Blacks were in control 14-3 at halftime. But the fact that their only other points came from the boot of McAlister suggested that the All Blacks badly missed midfield player Dan Carter, who was suspended.

Flyhalf Craig Gower kicked two penalties for the Italians, who were unlucky not to score a late try.

In a poor quality game at Twickenham, England and Argentina were level at 9-9 going into the last 10 minutes when Matt Banahan finished off a well-worked move to score the game's only try.

Before that it was a kicking contest between England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson and Argentina inside center Martin Rodriguez.

Wilkinson, who kicked all of England's points in last week's 9-18 loss to Australia, finished this game with two penalties, a drop goal and a conversion and Rodriguez kicked three penalties for the Pumas.

While relieved to get the victory, Johnson did not think the performance was good enough, especially with the All Blacks to come next.

"No, it wasn't. You can't defend what happened on the field at times. A lot of it was individual errors and, once you dig yourself into a hole, you're in a tough place," Johnson said. Former England coach Andy Robinson had a winning start in charge of Scotland in a 23-10 victory over Fiji at Murrayfield.

Johnny Beattie and Graeme Morrison had tries while Phil Godman kicked three penalties and two conversions for the Scots. Fiji replied with a try by Vereniki Goneva and a conversion and penalty by Nicky Little.


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