The All Blacks are the best team in the world. It takes something special to down the darkness.
England brought a solid game plan, an impenetrable defence and a team unity usually reserved for the All Blacks.
From the kick off, England looked in control, playing beautiful running rugby. Utilising 2nd, 3rd and 4th man plays, the All Blacks were unable to settle into their defensive patterns. Add to this tactical kicks behind the line, England perfectly unsettled the All Blacks when they had the ball in hand.
Within a few minutes England had scored a wonderful try just to the right of the posts. Using their forwards to penetrate the gain line before shifting the ball wide. Itoje crashed over for a well constructed team try.
At half time, the All Blacks were held to zero. A fete not achieved since 2012. All systems were go for an English upset.
One of the more exciting components of the English game was an intelligent game plan designed to nullify the All Blacks strengths.
The game plan centred around speed off the line and an umbrella defence, forcing the All Blacks to stay infield. Ordinarily the All Blacks like to beat you on the fringes, with wingers cutting in on the angle to offload to a support runner on the inside. But thanks to quick line speed, the All Blacks needed to go further back to go round (than they were willing) and ended up going into contact in centre field. Man of the Match Itoje was immense in his breakdown work, winning at least 3 turn overs in general play off the back of Englands defence tactic.
England made one mistake, and the All Blacks took 7 points for their trouble. With a 5 metre line out missing the target, landing in the arms of Ardie Savea who only needed to lean forward and fall over to score the try. A rare blip in an otherwise flawless performance.
Working hard to beat the gain line consistently, England made territory gains easily, finding themselves in the attacking half more often than not. Each time they visited, they left with points. Kicking more penalty goals than many would like, but you don’t turn down opportunities for points against the All Blacks.
An impressive All Black side was beaten today by an even more impressive England.
Referee Nigel Owen had his customary excellent match. Opting to let the game flow in instances other referees at this tournament would blow penalties. He contributed to what was a wonderful spectacle.
England will play the winner of Wales vs. South Africa next Saturday.
Final Score: New Zealand 7 – England 19