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What was almost an England B-team put up a mighty fight against New Zealand but fell just short, losing 20-15, in the opening Test of the tour.

Fly-half Freddie Burns, England's fourth-choice in the position when those involved in the Premiership grand final are available again, impressed as playmaker. 

He led the makeshift team around the park and potted four penalties and admitted he had plenty to prove after a below-par season for Gloucester. 

"First and foremost it's gutting as a team to be pipped like we were at the end," said Burns, who moves to Leicester next season. 

"Personally I was happy how I went. Hopefully I silenced a few critics."

Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler played for Saracens and Northampton in the epic England grand final while Bath's George Ford suffered a shoulder injury late in the season and opted for surgery in a bid to be ready for the World Cup, should he be picked. But Burns did his own chances no harm ahead of a fresh start at the Tigers as he kicked England to a 9-3 and 12-9 lead against the World Cup winners. 

As they so often do they, the All Blacks scored a late try through Conrad Smith to take a lead in the series before they take on a supposed full-strength England in the second match. 

"There are still areas of the game I want to get better at and I know there are areas out there I can definitely improve on," said Burns.

"But for me and the team it's a big step forward and a big confidence boost going into the last two Tests."

Image via Getty


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Burns impresses as under-strength England fall just short of an upset against the All Blacks
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