Last year a vibrant England put the frighteners on the All Blacks. So can they do it again next week?

 

England and New Zealand have met in 35 Tests over 108 years and guess how many times the English have won back to back? Once. In November 2002 and June 2003 the soon-to-be World Cup winners captained by Martin Johnson beat the All Blacks at Twickenham (31-28) and in Wellington (15-13) respectively. So it will be a little piece of history if Chris Robshaw's team can follow up their famous 38-21 success last December with a repeat dose this Saturday and in the process improve a dire overall record of seven England wins to New Zealand's 27 with one draw. Can England do it? Last year's match may give a few clues, while form and astute selection will be crucial.

Dealing with the pressure

Former Wallaby fly-half Michael Lynagh commented last week that "England should be the favourites every time they play at Twickenham". But how would they handle the expectation? Sometimes in rugby it pays to be the underdog, turning the strengths of the so-called superior team into weaknesses. Last year England, led by Joe Launchbury and Tom Wood, targeted every All Black ball-carrier ruthlessly, made their tackles stick and concentrated hard on bringing power and intelligence to the breakdown. The spectre of a repeat defeat will be a real motivator for New Zealand's captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter. Each man, incredibly, has a better than 88 per cent win rate in Tests.

Farrell must be perfect

In the match 11 months ago the All Blacks were on top in the first 25 minutes but made one crass mistake after another: Cory Jane kicked into touch from outside his 22; Aaron Smith box-kicked badly in the England 22; and Carter had a shocker with the kicking tee, missing two presentable penalties. That was followed by Keven Mealamu's botched line-out in the England half. It highlighted the groove Owen Farrell was in, kicking three penalties and a drop for a 12-0 lead after New Zealand's only scoreless first half in the last 15 years. Can the world-record Test points scorer Carter possibly be as generous again? If Farrell collects every point on offer, England have a chance.

Tales of the unexpected

New Zealand made no excuses last year despite the fact that all but two members of their squad had been hit by the Norovirus vomiting and diarrhoea bug. Also Carter had missed the two previous games with a calf problem and there was an undercurrent of aggro over the hooker Andrew Hore's violent tackle against Wales. Assuming no one slips a mickey finn in the All Blacks' tea this week they will arrive in better health. England? This time last year they were fired up by the embarrassment of losses to Australia and South Africa. The reverse is the case now, as Robshaw's men chase a very rare hat-trick against southern hemisphere opposition.

Stand up and be counted

England need a reprise of their back-rowers Wood and Robshaw jolting New Zealand backwards in and after the tackle. The home scrum and driving maul must also go well again. But can anyone see Joel Tomkins doing the job of England's injured wrecking-ball of a centre Manu Tuilagi, who terrorised Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and the All Black loose forwards into uncharacteristic cock-ups? Tuilagi scored one and helped make the other two England's tries last time. Smith is absent too now but his namesake Ben will ask questions of England's midfield. And the other Smith — scrum-half Aaron — won't want to be dominated by England's scrum-half Ben Youngs again. Perhaps it is time for a new hero? The increasingly assured Courtney Lawes, perhaps. Or could the monumentally inexperienced No 8 Billy Vunipola take a chunk out of his illustrious opposite number, Kieran Read?

You snooze, you lose

Be very afraid if New Zealand resume in the same vein they finished in at Twickenham in 2012. A brilliant last 10 minutes showcased the pace and handling epitomised now by the rubber-limbed Charles Piutau. If the newbie Auckland wing and the better known full-back Israel Dagg hit the turf running, it will take every bit of the home team's togetherness for English lightning to strike twice in the same place.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot