What goes around comes around? England came within inches of beating world champions New Zealand, with the most marginal of offside calls costing them the victory.
England thought they had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat five minutes from full-time, when Sam Underhill ran in a try to give the hosts a one point lead. He latched on to a loose ball on the opposition 40' after a Courtney Lawes block down on a New Zealand box kick, producing a beautiful sidestep before running the ball home.
Twickenham erupted, and England seemed to have claimed a memorable victory.
However, referee Jerome Garces went to the TMO to check for a possible offside during Lawes' block. While Stuart Barnes was convinced the second-row was in an onside position, the TMO was not in agreement.
The reaction on Twitter was split.
Courtney Lawes great bit of skill and timing. Result snatched away from us. If that’s a clear and obvious reason not to award a try then looking forward to TMO future reviews!
— Laurie Canter (@LaurieCanter) November 10, 2018
Courtney Lawes is in front of the back foot. That's offside. Them's the laws.
— Tom Dare (@Repka) November 10, 2018
Dreadful decision from tmo, could clearly see Courtney Lawes was onside cost the game that absolute joke #ENGvNZL
— Tom 🕺🏽 (@tommetcalfe999) November 10, 2018
Initial feeling was that Courtney Lawes wasn't behind the last man's feet at that ruck. So the correct call of offside. However, one could moan about both teams being offside on defence throughout the game... #ENGvNZL
— Jon Cardinelli (@jon_cardinelli) November 10, 2018
While the call was tight, Lawes did seem to be just offside. He was slightly ahead of the last man's feet during the ruck, so the laws would deem him to be in an offside position. It was close, but it was the correct call.
In truth, England did not deserve to win the game. They raced into a 15-0 lead during the opening half, but their failure to keep the scoreboard ticking over proved fatal. They would not score in the final 55 minutes.
While this was the most marginal of calls, one cannot help but feel there is a sense of karma about the decision. England were lucky to escape a penalty call late in their win over South Africa last week when a dangerous looking Owen Farrell tackle went unpunished. Had the decision gone the other way, it would have given South Africa the opportunity to kick a game-winning penalty. England would go on to win the game by a single point.