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All eyes were on Twickenham this weekend as rugby heavyweights New Zealand took on Englands relatively untested squad in the Quilter Autumn Internationals.

82,000 fans packed in to watch the first game played between England and New Zealand for four years. The tension was high as the All Blacks stood out on the pitch and proceeded with their traditional war dance. The shouts of the Haka were mostly drowned out by the chants of "Swing low sweet chariot" from the England fans, keen to give the English team as much emotional support as possible. 


The first half gets underway at extraordinary pace from England with the sort of energy and drive we expected from the opposition, but it was nowhere to be seen and the All Blacks seemed to be half asleep and not responding to the energy England came out with. This was displayed by the massive blindside pass from Ben Youngs to Chris Ashton who took it over the line to score the first try. A very bold move in such wet conditions! In what could have been a game-defining moment, Farrell couldn't quite get the bll through the poles for the conversion. Despite that, the confidence in the England squad didn't falter, and it wasn't long until England drove the ball over the line again in a dominant maul that the All Blacks defence just couldn't react to. By this point most of the England supporters were trying to comprehend quite what was going on. It was well into the first half and England was 15-0 up. 


It wasn't long before the All Blacks upped their game and this in most parts was thanks to Damian McKenzie, who brought the fight back at England and seemed to be doing most of the hard graft for the All Blacks. His efforts paid off as Jack Goodhue set him up with a great inside pass and he took it over the line for an easy conversion for Barrett to hit home. This renewed pace continued and a penalty kick and drop goal pushed the All Blacks into the lead. 


It's now we should talk about the TMO incident... The glorious moment Courtney Lawes charged down a kick, the All Blacks lost control of the loose ball and it was scooped up by Sam Underhill who in a franetic brake for the line took if over and scored what he (and most of the stadium) thought was the game-deciding try. Sadly Englands cheers were quickly muted as the ref took the playback to the ruck and brought in the TMO to check if Lawes was offside. Despite it being a bloody close call, the ref declared it to be off-side and shattered the England fans moment of glory.


My ten-year-old son learnt quite a few new words for his sweary vocabulary during the next few moments, as the crowd erupted into disbelief. 


Any further efforts for England to turn the game around failed to materialise and the game came to a disappointing end as McKenzie kicked the ball into touch for the last time.


Despite England's disappointment in the result, I think the All Blacks realised they had narrowly avoided a pretty embarrassing outcome and only just managed to secure a victory. England, however, must take more positives than negatives at the result which shows the new squad has buckets of potential for the world cup and with some further development of areas like lineouts and players being offside as they were the biggest holes in their game. 


England are on track for some excellent results for the rest of the Autumn internationals and will surely be heading into the games with Japan and Australia with a renewed confidence in their ability to perform at the top of their game. The All Blacks will be heading on with the rest of their tour knowing that they have some work to do to retain their place at the top of the pile.

Tickets are selling fast for many of the remaining games, and restrictions in place for official tickets are limited to the official channels of RFU affiliated clubs and schools. There are online ticket sellers having a bit of a heyday at the moment marking up and reselling tickets with tickets for some games pushing on for around £1000 on sites like eBay. Fret not, if the idea of taking a punt on a high-risk online purchase or a shady tout deal down a darkened alleyway doesn't float your boat, there are also great hospitality options available. Twickenham has just finished a major redevelopment of the East Stand which opened the door to new hospitality packages available ranging from fine dining restaurants and more informal locations serving street food menus and live bands and entertainment.

Hospitality packages are a really compelling option not only to corporate buyers and city slickers but to all sports fans with packages available to suit all budgets. The suites at Twickenham are brand new and go along way to evolve the modern hospitality facilities and bring Food, Drink and great rugby together in a great package. We really recommend checking out what's on offer! Click here to find out more


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