England will face New Zealand in Yokohama next Saturday with a place in the Rugby World Cup final at stake.
The Red Rose have played the All Blacks 41 times, with New Zealand dominating the fixture having won 33 clashes to England’s seven, with one drawn match.
New Zealand have claimed victory in the last six games between the two sides dating back to November 2013 and here, the PA news agency looks at five of the all-time classic encounters between the rivals for the all-important World Cup final berth.
England 15 New Zealand 9 – November 27, 1993, Twickenham
Will Carling’s England stunned a New Zealand side that were 7-1 favourites with the bookmakers to win at Twickenham. Debutant Jon Callard scored four penalties and along with Rob Andrew’s drop-goal they were enough to beat Sean Fitzpatrick’s All Blacks, who were kept tryless. New Zealand flanker Jamie Joseph’s stamp on Kyran Bracken’s ankle administered the pain but England’s pack held firm for an impressive victory.
England 29 New Zealand 45 – June 18, 1995, Rugby World Cup semi-final, Cape Town
Jonah Lomu starred for New Zealand on the only other occasion the two sides have met in a World Cup semi-final. Lomu laid waste to the men in white, storming to the first of his four tries after just 70 seconds. Carling’s team had no response to the All Blacks’ 20-year-old 18 stone 8lb juggernaut and exited the tournament to a humbling defeat.
England 26 New Zealand 26 – December 6, 1997, Twickenham
England raced to a 20-3 lead thanks to David Rees’ wonder try, with Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill also crossing the whitewash. However, New Zealand rallied with tries from Walter Little and Andrew Mehrtens, with England needing a late penalty by fly-half Paul Grayson to draw a pulsating match.
England 16 New Zealand 30 – October 9, 1999, Rugby World Cup pool match, Twickenham
Another World Cup, another defeat at the hands of the towering Lomu. The scores were locked at 16-16 when Lomu took the ball on the wing and beat four defenders to score the decisive try which proved that lightning really can strike twice. From that point there was no way back for Clive Woodward’s England, as New Zealand claimed a lead that they never relinquished.
England 31 New Zealand 22 – November 9, 2002, Twickenham
Jonny Wilkinson scored 21 points including a try as England began what turned out to be a clean sweep against the southern hemisphere sides in the autumn internationals. The Red Rose built a 31-14 lead with tries from Wilkinson, Ben Cohen and Lewis Moody before the All Blacks hit back with two late scores, including Lomu’s second of the match. However, England held on to start a sequence which led to World Cup victory the following year.
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Aaron Smith scored two tries as ruthless New Zealand took a step closer to a third-straight Rugby World Cup title with a 46-14 quarter-final victory over Ireland.
Beauden Barrett, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, George Bridge and Jordie Barrett all crossed the line as the All Blacks advanced to the semi-finals against England in Yokohama next Saturday.
A disappointing Ireland side were left to count the cost of a seventh quarter-final defeat in nine World Cup tournaments, a Robbie Henshaw score and a penalty try offered scant consolation.
Here’s the key talking points from Tokyo:
NEW ZEALAND CLASS
There has been little to separate New Zealand and Ireland in recent years but they remain poles apart when it comes to World Cups.
The All Blacks were utterly dominant on Saturday, playing fast and accurate, and showing lots of energy and physicality around the ball carrier.
They blasted Ireland apart, demonstrating fast back line play, slick passing, strong defence (they missed just 11 out of their 149 tackles), good kicking variety and ran good angles to make it difficult for Ireland to get over the gain line.
In defence, Ardie Savea (14), Sam Whitelock (13), Kieran Read (13), Sam Cane (12), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (12) and Joe Moody (11) made a staggering 75 tackles between them without missing one.
Their ferocity around ruck time – firing bodies in at all opportunities – put them on the front foot and prevented Ireland from generating quick ball, for the rare few times the losers enjoyed possession.
New Zealand are hands down the most potent team in the competition, showing high levels of accuracy and carving Ireland open with seven tries, while conceding just two.
All you could do was sit back, admire and pay tribute to the sensational rugby that they play.
A semi-final showdown against England is going to be fascinating.
Despite New Zealand’s brilliance, Ireland froze, lost most phases of play, missed too many tackles (29 tackles out of 137), made poor decisions and executed a poor and inaccurate game plan.
It’s systematic of the last 12 months and, in truth, maybe November’s win over the All Blacks in Dublin was actually the barometer that was never likely to be matched.
From a confidence point of view, to have no points on the board at half-time was a serious blow. And, to underline their lack of creativity, it took until the 69th minute before the Men in Green had the first score of the afternoon through Henshaw.
They didn’t have the keys to unlock New Zealand’s colossal defence, were cut open at ease and didn’t have the smartness and skill to trouble them.
Frustrated as the match wore on, Ireland lost focus and looked distracted by the commanding score-line. Instead, they should have tried to control the scenario, and worked on their accuracy and efficiency.
It was a disappointing performance from a team that promised so much with their strong displays over the past two years. Unfortunately, it’s back to the drawing board for new manager Andy Farrell ahead of the Six Nations in February.
People questioned Steve Hansen’s decision to play Beauden Barrett at full-back, but like all great players, stick them anywhere and they are likely to make a significant impact.
The two-time World Player of the Year terrified Ireland with his searing pace, making 21 runs for 79 metres, while chipping in with a fine solo try before flicking the ball out to his brother Jordie for the final score late on.
His overall contribution in Tokyo was outstanding, attacking from deep, eyeing gaps that other players couldn’t see and using all his skill and intelligence to put Seevu Reece, Richie Mo’unga and George Bridge into formidable attacking positions.
For a man who doesn’t look like the same towering presence compared to other rugby stars, he’s been the best and most consistent player since 2016.
Will be key in the All Blacks quest for a third straight Webb Ellis trophy.
SCHMIDT REIGN AS MANAGER
Joe Schmidt got used to making history during his six years in charge of Ireland.
As well as winning three Six Nations titles, the Kiwi broke Ireland’s southern hemisphere duck. They won a Test match in South Africa for the first time, won a series in Australia for the first time in almost 40 years, and more importantly, beat New Zealand twice.
But despite inspiring a nation during his golden reign as manager, he was unable to sign off in style and guide the Men in Green past the quarter-final stage for the first time.
Still, his legacy will be always be remembered for some of Ireland rugby’s finest moments.
For New Zealand boss Hansen, who will step down after the tournament, a chance to guide his team to a third successive World Cup title could make him one of the greatest ever coaches.
England stormed into the World Cup semi-finals as two tries from Jonny May underpinned a record-equalling 40-16 victory over Australia at Oita Stadium.
May celebrated his 50th cap by touching down twice in the first half but a seventh successive win against the Wallabies was truly founded on a ferocious defence led by man of the match Tom Curry.
Four years ago it was Australia who dumped England out of their own World Cup at the group stage, but their revenge for that humiliation was crushing.
Owen Farrell revelled in his return at fly-half in place of George Ford, with his pass to Kyle Sinckler for the third try showing his class as ringmaster in a return to form for England’s captain.
From the kicking tee he was immaculate as four penalties and four conversions made up a 20-point haul.
And in further vindication of Eddie Jones’ decision to drop Ford in favour of a more muscular midfield, it was Slade’s cunning interception and astute grubber that presented May with his second try.
Australia trailed heavily against Wales and Fiji in the group stage, but having fought back from 17-6 down to within a point shortly after the interval there was to be no escape act in Oita.
The Wallabies’ tactics were often brainless and chaotic and repeatedly played into English hands, summed-up by Anthony Watson’s late intercept of Kurtley Beale’s wild pass that completed the rout.
Any doubt over Jordan Petaia’s readiness for the big stage quickly evaporated as the 19-year-old centre made two impressive early touches as part of a strong start by Australia.
England invited pressure when Slade coughed up the ball in contact, enabling Beale to launch a counter-attack that ended with a Christian Leali’ifano penalty.
But in the space of three minutes Jones’ team had taken a stranglehold on the game by scoring two tries in quick succession, both finished by May.
Manu Tuilagi and Watson were prominent in the build-up to the first before Curry sent May over in the left corner, but the second was opportunism of the highest order.
A loose pass by David Pocock was picked off by Slade and the Exeter centre raced into opposition territory before directing an outstanding kick into the path of May, who scooped up the ball and touched down.
Australia were taking risks, including one ill-advised chip out of the 22 by Beale, and were consistently met by a wall of white shirts that was living up to Jones’ pre-match promise of defending with “brutality”.
Curry was magnificent in one passage of play, turning over a Wallabies attack and then driving Reece Hodge backwards with a muscular tackle as England continued to dominate.
Two bullocking runs from Samu Kerevi punched holes in Red Rose ranks and the threat ended with Leali’ifano’s third penalty, but two minutes into the second half they had reduced the deficit to a single point.
Petaia was instrumental as he grabbed a missed pass, dummied one way before feeding Marika Koroibete who sprinted around Daly to cross under the posts.
England’s response was immediate, however, as several strong carries brought reward when Farrell found Sinckler on a superb line that swept the Harlequins prop over the whitewash.
A scrum penalty kicked by Farrell drove another nail in Australia’s coffin, as did their inability to capitalise on a period spent pounding the whitewash with Will Genia at fault for the lost chance.
Sensing victory was theirs, England finished strongly as a rolling maul drove the underdogs backwards and secured a penalty that Farrell sent between the uprights.
The final blow was landed by Watson as he poached a simple try off Beale’s mistake, completing a resounding quarter-final victory as Koroibete was denied a second try by the TMO late on.
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