Preview: England v New Zealand
Fri, 15 Nov 2013 05:51
We were completely outplayed by them last year
Both teams will feel that they have something to prove when England take on New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.
The only game the All Blacks have lost since their World Cup triumph on home soil in 2011 was against England at the same venue last year, so they will be keen to put things right and stay on course for an unbeaten season.
For England it will be about showing that their win last year was no flash in the pan, whilst they will also be hungry to lay down a makor marker ahead of the World Cup in 2015 which they will host.
England have beaten the world champions only seven times in 35 meetings and last December's victory was their first in 10 attempts.
They have beaten them twice in a row only once, when they triumphed at Twickenham in November 2002 before winning in Wellington in June 2003.
Still without five injured British and Irish Lions, the only change from the team who beat Argentina 31-12 last week is the return of tighthead prop Dan Cole for David Wilson.
"The atmosphere was amazing for this game last year, the crowd made a real difference and I'm sure they can help inspire us again on Saturday," Stuart Lancaster said after naming his team on Thursday.
Hooker Dylan Hartley, man of the match in the Pumas victory, where England started well but fell away badly in the second half, will win his 50th cap.
He will, however, remain somewhat in the background when it comes to landmark celebrations as All Black flyhalf Dan Carter will become the fifth New Zealander to play 100 Tests.
The only change to the starting XV that beat France in Paris last week sees the return of powerful wing Julian Savea, with lock Luke Romano disapcing flank Sam Cane on the bench in anticipation of a tough tussle up front.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dismissed claims that illness in the camp played a role in their defeat last year, and said that they simply have to be better this time around.
"We were completely outplayed by them last year but this is an opportunity for us to see if we have improved our game to the point where we can be competitive," he said.
The build-up to this match has been spiced up by a British reporter who gained access to the All Blacks team room and revealed a number of motivational messages, which has not impressed Hansen or his team at all.
Players to watch:
For England: Fullback Mike Brown will be looking to continue his impressive form from the back, but the man under the most pressure will be flyhalf Owen Farrell whose decision-making will be under the microscope. In the pack big Billy Vunipola will aim to get England on the front foot by busting a few tackles whilst captain Chris Robshaw will look to set the tone with his defensive work rate. Up front Joe Launchbury's challenge will be to back up last week's performance against the Pumas and tighthead Dan Coles is back to give them a solid look in the front row.
For New Zealand: Charles Piuatau will want to show that his performance against France was not just a flash in the pan, and Ben Smith needs to prove that he has adjusted to his new role at outside centre. The spotlight will be on Dan Carter in his 100th Test, but his halfback partner Aaron Smith could prove a bigger attacking threat with his pace around the fringes. In the forwards Kieran Read will want to continue his form with support from evergreen skipper Richie McCaw. Sam Whitelock will look to rule the line-outs and veteran hooker Keven Mealamu will look to prove he is not past it.
Head to head: The duel between Mike Brown and Israel Dagg should be a classic as they are two of the best fullbacks around at the moment. In the midfield both Joel Tomkins and Ben Smith have limited experience in the position which should make it interesting, and playmakers Owen Farrell and Dan Carter will obviously have a major influence on proceedings. Captains Chris Robshaw and Richie McCaw will want to lead by example and in the second row the battle between Courtney Lawes and Sam Whitelock could be key whilst the confrontation between Dan Cole and Tony Woodcock at scrum-time should be immense.
2012: England won 38-21 in London
2010: New Zealand won 26-16 in London
2009: New Zealand won 19-6 in London
2008: New Zealand won 32-6 in London
2008: New Zealand won 44-12 in Christchurch
2008: New Zealand won 37-20 in Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 41-20 in London
2005: New Zealand won 23-19 in London
2004: New Zealand won 36-12 in Auckland
2004: New Zealand won 36-3 in Dunedin
Prediction: England will be no pushovers, but this is the match the All Blacks have been looking forward to all year so we expect them to continue their unbeaten run and win by seven points.
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 David Wilson, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alex Goode.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements; 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Date: Saturday, November 16
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 03.30, Sunday, November 17 NZ time)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy but dry, high of 10, slight breeze
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
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