Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 03/12/2012

.. Coming for to carry me home.


Corfe Castle, originally uploaded by http://andrewskelton.net.

The players are all standing in line, arms around each others shoulders, and we all stand for each countries national anthems; few know the words for the New Zealand anthem, and with few nationals having been able to make the long journey it’s only the amplified voice of the performer down on the pitch that echoes around the stadium. This is in stark contrast to the playing of the English national anthem, God Save The Queen, which almost takes what little covers there are above the stadium right off as the crowd gets behind the performer centre stage. With such rituals over with, there’s just one more left before kickoff; the All Blacks assemble near the halfway line where they take up position to perform their war chant, the Hakka, which is supposed to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. It seems to have the opposite effect however, the crowd in unison start to sing and “Swing Low” drowns out the war words of the opposition.

New Zealand win the toss, and with their first kick, the game begins. We’re on the edge of our seats and for the first fifteen minutes the score remains level at zero a piece but then the All Blacks are awarded a penalty which is within kicking distance of the English posts, o-oh, this could break the spell. Amazingly, the kicker misses and we all breath a sigh of relief… there’s still a chance and ten minutes later, after an offside infringement by one of the All Blacks player England have their first chance at getting some points on the board. The ball travels straight and true giving England three points, the first of the game, we’re taken first blood!

Before we have chance to reveal in the scoreline, it’s the opposition who are awarded a penalty which they decide to kick for goal and amazingly, again, they miss which leaves us still ahead albeit by the slightest of margins. The battle continues and after another five minutes we’re awarded another penalty after New Zealand hang on to the ball, which Owen Farrell effortlessly kicks for another three points, we’re 6-0 up.

With only three minutes left of the first half, the referee indicates that England have a penalty but allows play to continue so that before we know it, the ball sails over the posts from a drop goal, we’re now 9-0 up. That has to be enough excitement for the first half, but no, with only five seconds to go until the whistle blows we’re awarded another penalty and with the ball safely slotted between the two posts England are, amazingly, 12-0 in front. Blimey I need a drink!

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