Fri 25 Oct 2019 | 09:27

Preview: England v New Zealand

Preview: England v New Zealand
Fri 25 Oct 2019 | 09:27
Preview: England v New Zealand

WOLRD CUP SEMIFINALS: England coach Eddie Jones heads into a World Cup semifinal against New Zealand taking inspiration from legendary football manager Alex Ferguson.


Saturday’s fixture in Yokohama will be the key fixture of Jones’s four-year reign, with the veteran Australian making no secret of his desire to lead England to World Cup glory following their embarrassing first-round exit on home soil in 2015.

But they face the toughest challenge possible this weekend, with reigning champions New Zealand having not lost a World Cup match since a 2007 quarter-final defeat by France.

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The All Blacks are now bidding for a third successive global crown and fourth in total.

England have won just seven out of 41 Tests against New Zealand, with their last victory back in 2012.


However, in their only previous match against the All Blacks under Jones, in November last year, England pushed them close before losing 15-16, with flank Sam Underhill having a try disallowed for a marginal offside by Courtney Lawes.

When Ferguson took over as manager of Manchester United in 1986 he said he wanted to knock Liverpool, then the dominant side in the English game, “off their perch”.

Ferguson’s trophy-laden reign at Old Trafford was proof of how he lived up to his words, and Jones said he now wants England to follow suit.

“That’s what we’ve got the opportunity to do. When you’ve been involved in rugby the country you want to knock off is New Zealand because they’ve been the best,” Jones said.

‘Change rugby history’

“And the reason you’re involved in this game is you want to be the best,” added Jones, the coach of his native Australia when they beat the All Blacks in a semi-final of the 2003 World Cup.


“You’ve got the opportunity to change rugby history on Saturday,” Jones added.

“When we played New Zealand in November we learned that you’ve got to be alive in every moment of the game.

“There were times when we weren’t and we allowed them back in the game. That’s been the greatest lesson of all.”

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Jones – who invited Ferguson into the England camp earlier in the tournament – has recalled George Ford at flyhalf after he came off the bench during an emphatic 40-16 quarter-final win over Australia.

England captain Owen Farrell, a flyhalf against the Wallabies, moves to inside centre alongside childhood friend Ford, with Jones reverting to the two playmaker system that has served him well for much of his time as Red Rose boss.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has also made one change to the side that hammered Ireland 46-14, with Scott Barrett at blindside flank to combat England’s “kamikaze kids” Underhill and Tom Curry.

Jones insisted earlier in the week that all the pressure was on New Zealand as no one gave England a chance.

But it is 12 years since England last made it to a World Cup final, losing to South Africa.

Hansen appeared to suggest England’s record put them under at least as much pressure as the All Blacks in what he hoped would be a “game for the ages”.

“We’ve arrived at this point with vastly different experiences from previous World Cups,” said Hansen. “No doubt, those experiences will resurface throughout the week and even in the game itself.”

England’s 31-man World Cup squad contains 13 players who were involved in the British and Irish Lions’ drawn series in New Zealand two years ago, and Jones said: “It has helped having players here who have been on the Lions tour and played against New Zealand.

“New Zealand are a great team… like any good team, you have to take away time and space from them and you have to find areas you can pressure them,” Jones said.

“We believe we have identified a number of areas where we can do that.”


Players to watch:

For England: George Ford has been recalled to the starting XV for Saturday’s match against the reigning world champions in Yokohama and coach Eddie Jones will hope that the flyhalf’s inclusion will bolster England’s kicking and distribution options. Captain Owen Farrell shifts from flyhalf to midfield, the playmaker will certainly be closely monitored however if he remains cool and calm the utility back can certainly stamp his authority on the match. Farrell’s kicking will also be vital to the side. In-form wing Jonny May, who scored two tries against Australia, could be a massive threat out wide. In the pack, the loose forward trio Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola, who will earn his 50th cap, along with the “kamikaze kids” Sam Underhill and Tom Curry will be physical at the breakdown.

For New Zealand: Scott Barrett was named at blindside flank to combat England’s “kamikaze kids”, the sole change to the starting XV that beat Ireland 46-14 in last weekend’s quarterfinal. Lock Brodie Retallick will be vital when it comes to set-piece however the tall figure will pose some questions in open play. In the backline, Beauden Barrett is always a very lethal player and can change a match in a second. Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue, who has been the inform midfield combo, will be a handful.

Head to head: You start at flyhalf, Richie Mo’unga of New Zealand against Goerge Ford of England. The two players may not always steal the headlines but during the World Cup, they have been impressive and have managed to silence their harshest critics. Owen Farrell versus Beauden Barrett. They may occupy different positions, Farrell at inside centre and Barrett at fullback, but they both fulfill key playmaking roles for their respective teams, having each had plenty of experience at flyhalf. At loose forward Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry contest against New Zealand captain Kieran Read, Ardie Savea and Scott Barrett will be physical but certainly very intriguing.

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Previous Results:

Preview: England v New Zealand


Prediction: The match is guaranteed to be a blockbuster. Throughout the week Eddie Jones has labeled his team as the underdog and installed us against the odds mentality. It will certainly fuel their effort when they go against the best team in the world. It will be closely contested, however, it’s very difficult to find in any weakness in Steve Hansen’s team thus New Zealand will take the win by five points.


England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph.

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Cody Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Jordie Barrett.

Date: Saturday, October 26
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City
Kick-off: 17.00 (08.00 GMT; 09.00 UK & Ireland time; 21.00 NZ time)
Expected weather: Clear in the morning but cloudy in the evening, with a high of 24°C, dropping to 16°C.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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