Eurosport - Wed, 23 Jun 10:31:00 2010
The Maori outscored England by four tries to three in a thrilling match as they completed their centenary celebrations with a 100 per cent record after earlier wins over New Zealand Barbarians and Ireland last week.
England started the game well and opened an early 13-0 lead and closed out the first half with tries from Danny Care and Chris Ashton in quick succession to move 28-17 ahead at the break.
At this stage England looked on course to finish their tour on a winning note, but they were unable to live with the devastating Maori backs in the second half as Gear completed his hat-trick in what was ultimately a well-deserved victory for the home side.
While Martin Johnson will be able to take many positives from England's first half effort, he will be concerned with the way they lost their shape after the interval and let slip a chance to lay down a real marker that his side had turned a corner on this tour.
The loss leaves England with a respectable tour record of played five, won two, drawn one and lost two, but more importantly Johnson will fly home knowing he has unearthed a number of new players capable of competing for his first team squad.
Against the Maori, fly-half Charlie Hodgson controlled the game superbly in the first half, skipper Chris Robshaw carried well for the full 80 minutes and the England scrum again had the edge against southern hemisphere opponents.
Much lay on the shoulders of scrum-half Danny Care after his rival Ben Youngs's man-of-the-match performance in the Test victory over Australia last week, and the Harlequins half-back mostly rose to the challenge before his game became a little ragged in the second half.
England continued their momentum from Sydney and after a Hodgson penalty had given them an early lead, the Sale fly-half put through a beautiful grubber which Chris Ashton did well to hack on for Steffon Armitage to touch down.
Another Hodgson penalty made it 13-0 but when another effort on goal bounced off the upright Maori full-back Robbie Robson launched a stunning counter attack from deep in his half that ended with Gear (pictured) crashing through tackles of David Strettle and Steffon Armitage to score a superb try.
The outstanding Luke McAlister added the conversion and a minute later scrum-half Aaron Smith pinched the ball from Care at the base of an England scrum and launched an attack that finished with Liam Messam diving over in the corner.
At 17-13 down England were under huge pressure but did well to claw back their momentum and finish the half on the front foot.
Care scored their second try when he took a quick tap from a penalty in the Maori 22, and moments later Hodgson intercepted a McAlister pass before feeding Ashton to go over in the corner.
But the second half was all Maori and they wasted little time cutting England's lead when McAlister burst through midfield and Gear claimed his second try after some questionable defence by Mathew Tait, who had a difficult evening.
Three minutes later Messam pinched another England ball and a superb miss pass from lock Hayden Triggs set up Gear for his hat-trick and a 29-28 lead to the Maori.
Johnson introduced Shane Geraghty for Hodgson soon after in an attempt to spark England's back line but it paid little dividends as the Northampton back struggled with the pace of the match.
Youngs also came on for Care and managed to add a little shape to England's game but the Maori continued to threaten the visitors' line every time they had possession.
England's midfield defence was stretched again on the hour when Dwayne Sweeney made ground and the Maori came close to putting the game to bed when McAlister was hauled down a metre short.
A penalty from replacement Willie Ripia extended the home side's lead to 32-28 in the 73rd minute and the replacement fly-half added another four minutes from time as the Maori closed out the game despite England's brave effort to grab an equalising score at the death.