England can impress in Investec Series opener

ENGLAND vs NEW ZEALAND

TOMORROW, 2.00PM, SKY SPORTS

Martin Johnson gets the chance to show how his England team have progressed since their excellent 21-20 victory over Australia in June, as the autumn internationals get underway tomorrow at Twickenham.

England face the toughest possible opener against the All Blacks, who will be seething after they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the Aussies last weekend. With their aura of invincibility shattered, some may say that this is as good a time as any to take on New Zealand. Their quality should not be overlooked as a result of a single defeat, however.

Before last weekend, the All Blacks had gone 15 games unbeaten and their record against England is dispiriting for home fans. They have won the last eight head-to-heads, including four meetings at Twickenham, by an average of 21.25 points. Going on these results, it is a struggle to see the Red Rose getting the better of the All Blacks, but from a punting perspective I’m keen to take on the visitors with a 12 point handicap at 10/11 with Paddy Power.

Exactly how England will set out their stall is under question, with conflicting suggestions coming from different corners of the camp this week. Johnson himself has claimed that his side will go out all guns blazing and attempt to win the try-count as well as the match, while defence coach Mike Ford has promised “old-fashioned rugby” and “one of the best defensive performances ever”.

Whichever way they attempt to stifle New Zealand’s superiority, Johnno’s team looks well equipped to do so. Andrew Sheridan adds experience and power up front, Courtney Lawes is a threat in the lineout and the backs are as comfortable running as they are defending. If England decide that kicking is the answer, fly half Toby Flood appears to be up to the challenge after he kicked all of Leicester’s 21 points in a flawless display on his most recent game for his club. The 2/1 available on Betdaq for an England penalty to put the first points on the board is therefore good value.

I am inclined to believe Johnson over Ford and expect high-quality attacking rugby from both teams. The forecast is good with little wind, and this all suggests that buying total points at 47 with Sporting Index is the right call.

POINTERS...
England to win with 12pt start at 10/11 with Paddy Power
First scoring play to be England penalty at 2/1 on Betdaq
Buy total points at 47 with Sporting Index