England were left heartbroken after the late try which looked to have beaten world champions New Zealand was controversially chalked out.
Five minutes from the end of a stunning contest Sam Underhill latched onto a loose ball and ran it back for what appeared to be England’s third and decisive try.
But after an agonising wait match officials ruled that Courtney Lawes had been fractionally offside when charging down the kick.
It meant New Zealand escaped to victory – though they leave Twickenham sound in the knowledge that England are back on track for a genuine crack at their world title a year from now.
It had all looked to promising when England bossed virtually the entire first half as the rain poured out of the skies.
Ashton, on his first start for four years, made up for lost time with a try in 106 seconds, as New Zealand sleepwalked their way into the contest.
Farrell nonchalantly added a drop goal and when Maro Itoje won a lineout 15 metres from the ABs’ line midway through the half, Dylan Hartley latched onto it for his pack, plus Farrell and Henry Slade, to shove him over.
England were in dreamland, everything was going to plan. Their tempo was spot on, so too the variety of their work. New Zealand, so used to calling the tune, were dancing to someone else’s beat – and not enjoying it.
But they didn’t get where they are today by not adapting and evolving to events around them and just before halftime Kieran Read turned down a kickable penalty in favour of a scrum.
Back came the ball, Barrett popped it inside and Damian McKenzie powered in. Seconds later Barrett was back for more, kicking a penalty goal. Quick as a flash two-thirds of England’s lead had gone.
Worse still New Zealand’s tails were now up. England returned from the break without Dylan Hartley and also without their devil and the control that had marked out their first half display.
Barrett dropped a goal then, on the hour as New Zealand settled into their rhythm, added the penalty that put them ahead for the first time.
England lacked the accuracy to respond. Hartley’s replacement Jamie George chose the wrong time to have a lineout nightmare, making a horlicks of five throws – three of which the remarkable Brodie Retallick stole.
Still the game was there to be won. Eddie Jones sent on Danny care to change the pace and five minutes from time England struck.
Lawes charged down a kick and Sam Underhill, enjoying a magnificent game snaffled the ball and headed over the line, selling the most delicious dummy en route.
England thought they had won. The officials had other ideas.
ENGLAND – Tries: Ashton, Hartley. Con: Farrell. Drop: Farrell.
NEW ZEALAND – Try: McKenzie. Con: Barrett. Pens: Barrett 2. Drop: Barrett.