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ABs win series

Monday, June 23, 2014

HAMILTON - England melted in the face of a merciless All Blacks first-half onslaught to lose the third Test 36-13 in Hamilton and suffer a 3-0 series whitewash.

New Zealand scored all four of their tries in a spectacular first spell performance to power 29-6 clear before their momentum was stifled after the break.

A tired England looked like they would be on the end of a rout after conceding two early tries to winger Julian Savea — who finished with a hat-trick — and a double to halfback Aaron Smith.

However, they stiffened their resolve in a stop-start second half as the All Blacks' error rate multiplied in conditions made slippery by light rain.

The result is a body blow for the tourists who had talked up their progress on the tour and their disappointment at losing the first two Tests by close scorelines - 20-15 and 28-27.

It was the best performance of the series from the world champions, who bombed a number of other opportunities in the first spell.

Improved five-eighth Aaron Cruden kicked nine points while counterpart Freddie Burns kicked eight, including the conversion of their try to winger Marland Yarde.

It was the All Blacks' 17th straight Test win, matching the top tier world record streak set by teams from New Zealand (1965-69) and South Africa (1997-98).

They can break the record in their next Test, the Rugby Championship opener against Australia in Sydney on August 16.

New Zealand ended a recent trend of slow starts, racing to a 15-3 lead after 14 minutes.

Cruden created Savea's two early tries by breaking the first line of a porous England backline defence.

Smith also bagged his double before halftime, taking inside passes from winger Cory Jane and fullback Ben Smith after both made clean breaks.

England's cause wasn't helped by a yellow card shown to No.8 Billy Vunipola in the 20th minute for a high tackle on Aaron Smith.

Mistakes and errors marred the second half, which included a late yellow card to All Blacks reserve prop Wyatt Crockett.

A sizzling Jane break after the fulltime hooter sent Savea over for his third try, giving the bulldozing winger eight from four Tests against England and 23 from 22 overall.

Centre Malakai Fekitoa was solid in his first Test start, along with No.8 Kieran Read, who was replaced at halftime in his first Test of the year after battling concussion symptoms for the last two months.

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