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New Zealand, England injury woes ahead of Auckland decider

SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand scrumhalf TJ Perenara and England prop Joe Marler are in doubt for the second Test in Auckland with New Zealand chasing a clean sweep after edging England 16-15 on Saturday evening.

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Head coach Scott Robertson confirmed that an unnamed player was on standby to join the New Zealand squad ahead of the Test on Saturday of the two-match series.

Perenara seemed to hyper-extend his knee in a collision with a teammate during the first half of New Zealand’s 16-15 win over England in Dunedin – after which the scrumhalf didn’t return after half-time.

“We’ve got plans in place if he’s not right,” Robertson said.

“I hope it’s one of those ones that looks worse than it actually is.”

Perenara made his return to Test rugby after an 18-month layoff due to a serious Achilles tendon rupture in a drawn test against England at Twickenham.

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In the England camp prop Joe Marler suffered a foot injury that ended his 95th Test prematurely and he is likely to miss the deciding Test at Eden Park, according to coach Steve Borthwick.

“A man as tough as Joe leaving the field clearly means it is not just a small injury. It’s not just a bruise,” Borthwick said.

“We don’t know the full extent of it, but clearly it doesn’t look good for next week.”

Marler was replaced by debutant Fin Baxter who played 63 minutes off the bench but struggled to stabilise what was from the outset a wobbly England scrum.

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Borthwick admitted that the scrum is one area his side needs to address but defended flyhalf Marcus Smith who missed three shots at goal that could have broken England’s drought on New Zealand soil.

“Everyone makes mistakes and Marcus also produced magic on that pitch today,” he said.

All Blacks pivot Damian McKenzie also had an off night with the boot only slotting two from five attempts at goal, including being “timed out” after exceeding the 60-second limit to take a penalty kick.

McKenzie called for a shot clock to be added to the big screen at New Zealand venues.

“I can’t always count to 60 in my head, especially when I’m trying to focus. I just missed the time,” McKenzie said.

England must rip up the history books to draw the series when they face New Zealand at Eden Park – a venue they haven’t lost at since 1994.

England are also chasing a win on New Zealand soil to end a 21-year drought over the All Blacks at home.

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