WILLIAM CHRIMES PREVIEWS ENGLAND V NEW ZEALAND AND BEN CLEMINSON LOOKS AT ENGLAND V CHILE
The success of this autumn international series rests on tomorrow’s showdown with New Zealand.
It’s hard to make an accurate assessment of where this current crop of England players are unless they take on the best teams around, and the All Blacks are just that.
The Red Rose have won both autumn matches against Australia and Argentina, far weaker opponents than New Zealand, without really setting the world alight.
Punters can get 5/1 with Coral for England to secure a hat-trick which emphasizes the task at hand, while the All Blacks are available at 1/8 with the same firm.
A year ago England went into the concluding autumn series contest having lost to Australia and South Africa. They went on to record arguably one of their greatest ever wins when routing tomorrow’s rivals 38-21.
That record margin of victory was even more impressive given New Zealand were unbeaten in 20 matches heading to Twickenham. It halted a run of five successive defeats against them and secured only a seventh win over the visitors.
In a cruel twist of fate, some of the star performers that day are not available for selection because of injury.
Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt both scored that memorable afternoon and will be missed this time around. Their replacements, Billy Twelvetrees and Joel Tomkins, have grown into the centre positions and saved their best performances for Argentina.
Stuart Lancaster is also unable to call on the services of Alex Corbisiero after the Northampton prop was ruled out, joining Mako Vunipola, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde on the treatment table.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has no such injury concerns as he desperately seeks revenge for the world champions’ lone defeat in their past 33 internationals.
They won the Rugby Championship at a canter and ran out 26-19 winners in Paris last weekend to set them up perfectly for their return to HQ.
Hansen fielded a mightily experienced starting XV against France that had a collective 853 caps, with a further 112 available on the bench for a combined record of 965. There are 959 caps in this week’s squad with Julian Savea the only change in a group of players that has four centurions – compared to England’s none.
Fly-half Dan Carter is the leading points scorer in Test match history and is also set to win his 100th cap. If revenge over England wasn’t enough, the tourists are bidding to make history by becoming the first All Blacks side to finish the year with a 100 percent record. They have won all 12 matches this calender year.
England will do their utmost to slow down the All Blacks juggernaut and there have been signs that Lancaster’s men are capable of doing so.
It’s been 120 minutes since England conceded a try and they will need more of that strong defence here.
England are worth backing at 10/11 with Coral with a +13 handicap. It’s rare that they are beaten by too many points on home turf and France only lost by seven points last weekend.
Spread bettors should sell New Zealand’s supremacy at 13 with Sporting Index and look to make use of the firm’s cash-out option around the hour mark just in case the visitors’ superior class sees them pull away.
Last Saturday England opened the scoring with a penalty for the 12th straight home international. Coral offer 15/8 for a repeat and I’d advise punters to back Owen Farrell to start proceedings in the same fashion.
England with +13 handicap at 10/11 with Coral
England penalty to be first scoring play at 15/8 with Coral
Sell New Zealand supremacy at 13 with Sporting Index