Injured Joe Marler a doubt for second Test as England rue missed chance

England look set to be without Joe Marler for the final Test of their New Zealand tour after the prop limped out of Saturday’s frustrating 16-15 loss with a foot injury sustained in the first quarter of the game. They have also acknowledged they missed a significant chance to beat the All Blacks on Kiwi soil for the first time since 2003.

Steve Borthwick has revealed the experienced Marler will require a scan on the injury and the early signs are not hugely encouraging. “A man as tough as Joe leaving the field clearly means it is not just a small injury – it’s not just a bruise,” he said. “We don’t know the full extent of it, but clearly it doesn’t look good for next week.”

England’s sense of disappointment will also take a while to ease after they were unable to protect a 15-10 second-half lead at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, with Marcus Smith missing three kicks at goal.

Borthwick refused to blame anyone for the outcome – “everyone makes mistakes and Marcus also produced magic on that pitch today” – but the captain, Jamie George, accepted that England had missed a big opportunity. “Of course it was. We came here to win and achieve something no English team has done for 21 years.

“We really put our hand up at times and had control of the game for long periods but the second half turned into an arm wrestle and it was always going to be a one-score game. We’ll be better for it next week.”

New Zealand, however, have not lost a Test at Eden Park for 30 years and will be buoyed by a first win under their new coach, Scott Robertson. “Going to Eden Park we know the record they have there but there’s a lot we can take from the game,” George said. “What an exciting opportunity we’ve got, the last week of the season for us.”

The All Blacks fly-half, Damian McKenzie, has called for a shot clock to be clearly visible at Eden Park after being timed out while attempting a penalty that would have put New Zealand four points clear late in the game. “I’m not making any excuses but it would help,” said McKenzie, whose previous two second-half penalties were ultimately the difference between the sides.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso scores England’s second try despite a tackle by New Zealand’s Damian McKenzie. Photograph: Steve McArthur/AP

“It would be great if there was a timer on the screen, to give yourself an idea. I can’t always count to 60 in my head, especially when I’m trying to focus. I just missed the time. We’re allowed 60 seconds from when the penalty is blown, to when the goal is kicked. He did rush me on my previous kick and told me that I needed to speed up. It kind of felt like I didn’t take long with the last kick.

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“But I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. It’s completely on my shoulders, I’ve got to sort that out around my process. There was a lot of relief after that final penalty. It would have been disastrous if we had lost from a kick.”

His head coach was also relieved. “We have got to own it, he has got to own it,” said Robertson. “We have to understand that is the way the game is going and you have to be quicker.”

The Guardian

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