London: New Zealand survived an England fightback to make it 13 wins out of 13 this year with a 30-22 victory at Twickenham on Saturday.
The world champions, for whom this win atoned for their shock 38-21 loss at Twickenham nearly a year ago, led by 14 points as early as the 17th minute.
But England recovered to lead 22-20 heading into the final quarter.
However, Julian Savea then scored his second try of the match — the wing’s 18th in 19th Tests — and the All Blacks saw the game out to keep alive their hopes of a perfect calendar year heading into their final match of 2013 against Ireland in Dublin next weekend.
For 2015 World Cup hosts England, defeat meant they ended their November campaign on a losing note after wins over Australia and Argentina, but there was plenty of encouragement for coach Stuart Lancaster in his side’s performance against the self-styled “most dominant team in the history of the world”.
An enthralling first half saw New Zealand race into a 17-3 lead, but the All Blacks were just 20-16 ahead come half-time.
By then New Zealand star fly-half Dan Carter had gone off injured in his 100th Test.
It took New Zealand fewer than two minutes to score the first try of the match through Savea.
Ma’a Nonu’s well-judged chip ahead set up a New Zealand line-out five metres from England’s line.
All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read then twice did brilliantly to set up Savea’s score. First he took a poor pass from McCaw that bounced in front of him and then delivered a superb inside ball to Savea that took out three covering England defenders.
Savea strolled over and, with international record points-scorer Carter kicking the conversion, New Zealand were 7-0 up.
Minutes later England were on the scoreboard when fly-half Owen Farrell kicked a 45-metre penalty.
In the 11th minute, England wing Ben Foden thought he’d scored a length-of-the-field intercept try but South African referee Craig Joubert brought play back for a penalty for offside by England captain Chris Robshaw and Carter made it 10-3 to New Zealand.
England were struggling to get their hands on the ball and the All Blacks’ pressure produced a second try, this time for Read, in the 16th minute.
Lock Brodie Retallick’s pass set prop Owen Franks off on a charging run.
From the ruck, scrum-half Aaron Smith released full-back Israel Dagg and his pass sent in Read. Carter converted and New Zealand led 17-3.
England did manage to establish some territorial control from the re-start through several close-range scrums before opting for a five-metre line-out after an All Blacks infringement.
After replays were inconclusive as to whether No.8 Billy Vunipola had got the ball down for a try, England struck from a five-metre scrum when lock Joe Launchbury crossed after Read’s knock-on.
Farrell kicked the conversion and England were back in the match at 10-17 down. New Zealand then suffered a further setback when Carter limped off just 26 minutes into his landmark appearance .
Soon afterwards his replacement, Aaron Cruden, kicked a 40-metre penalty, awarded for offside, to extend New Zealand’s lead to 20-10.
But New Zealand found themselves a man down when Read was sin-binned in the 33rd minute.
Farrell kicked the ensuing penalty and made it four kicks from four before the break after good work by the England pack at the scrum.
England moved to within a point, at 19-20, when, after replacement Wyatt Crockett’s cynical block on wing Chris Ashton, Farrell kicked his fourth penalty in the 53rd minute.
And when McCaw infringed at a ruck, Farrell kicked England into a two-point lead.
But New Zealand hit back in the 64th minute after nicking possession at an England line-out.
Charles Piutau went close before being denied by full-back Mike Brown’s last-ditch tackle but New Zealand, switching play, then saw Nonu’s pass out of the tackle release man-of-the-match Savea for a well-taken try.
Cruden converted and then added a penalty to leave New Zealand two scores in front at 30-22 and there was no way back for England.