Hartley calls for clinical England against All Blacks

England must be clinical and stop squandering scoring opportunities to have any hope of beating the All Blacks, hooker Dylan Hartley said Tuesday.

A weakened England side came close to upsetting the world champions in Auckland on Saturday, only to lose the first Test 20-15 after they butchered a number of opportunities through handling errors and poor choices.

Hartley said England had showed they could stand up to the All Blacks in their own backyard, and now they had to go one step further and convert their chances in the second test in Dunedin.

“We fronted up at set piece time and challenged the All Blacks, which was good. Defensively, we were very sound and attack-wise we were in good shape and made good line-breaks,” he said.

“I think it’s about being more clinical when we make these line-breaks and coming away with points.”

He said both teams were rusty in the first match of the three-Test series, and the tourists had to be prepared for New Zealand to lift a gear in Dunedin.

“We’ve got to be better and we’ve got to run with them for 80 minutes this weekend, knowing that the intensity is going to go up a notch,” he said.

Hartley played no part in the Auckland Test because he was among a group of players whose arrival in New Zealand was delayed by the Premiership final, with Rob Webber of Bath filling in for him and having an outstanding game.

Harley said he could understand if some of the so-called “second stringers” retained their spots over more fancied rivals in Dunedin as a reward for their tenacious performance in the opening Test.

“It’s a squad thing, it’s a team thing, there’s a bigger picture to all this,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll get an opportunity somewhere and, as ever, I’ll give it a good shot when I get a chance.”


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