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.


election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'