HARRY MADLEY PREVIEWS ENGLAND’S FIRST AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL AND BEN CLEMINSON LOOKS AT LIVERPOOL V CHELSEA
WITH just over 10 months until the start of the 2015 World Cup Stuart Lancaster’s England side can make a bold statement to the rugby world as they attempt to overcome the power, flare and experience of New Zealand tomorrow at Twickenham.
The majority of England supporters will be encouraged with what they saw last summer against Steve Hansen’s side, despite being on the end of a 3-0 series whitewash. Chris Robshaw’s compatriots lost by a collective margin of just six points in the first two Tests.
England have been hampered by injuries, especially in their front-five. Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury are the most noticeable absentees. Furthermore, powerhouse Manu Tuilagi has been sidelined through a groin injury which will hinder the hosts’ chances of an upset.
If the Red Rose are going to repeat the heroics of 2012, when they beat the All Blacks 38-21, they will have to do it through the likes of Owen Farrell. He will be servicing yet another new midfield combination of Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt with debutant Semesa Rokoduguni outside them on the right wing.
But the world champions have only been beaten twice since the 2011 Rugby World Cup (46 Tests) and they flew into London last week following their rampant run-out at Soldier Field in Chicago where they embarrassed the USA 74-6.
New Zealand won the Rugby Championship for a third successive year just six weeks ago and their solidarity and selection continuity will no doubt stand them in good stead.
Although Dan Carter misses out, the All Blacks have named a ferocious side, including 6ft 4in rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams, who wears the number 12 shirt and Julian Savea, already drawing comparisons to the great Jonah Lomu. Savea has notched up 29 international tries from just 30 appearances.
There’s no doubt that England, third in the IRB world rankings, pose a serious challenge on home turf. But the visitors have averaged more than 32 points in their last 10 outings and should have too much not to come away with their fifth consecutive win against England. A buy of their supremacy at 9 with Sporting Index is advised.
Selling total points at 44 with Sporting Index is also recommended. The All Blacks have conceded an average of just 13 points in their last six matches and a high-scoring affair looks unlikely in the forecast conditions.
Buy New Zealand supremacy at 9 with Sporting Index
Sell total points at 44 with Sporting Index