England vs All Blacks

England vs All Blacks : England too have looked comfortable until this point, particularly as Typhoon Hagibis also ruled out the biggest challenge, the group game against France.

WHAT: England vs All Blacks

WHEN: Saturday 26 October, 5pm local time

WHERE: Yokohama, Japan

STREAMING, US: NBC Sports Gold

For the semi-final the All Blacks and England have mostly retained the sides that got them this far with minor but key changes. England have recalled fly-half George Ford, moving skipper Owen Farrell to inside centre to accommodate him, and thus giving England more kicking options. Meanwhile, New Zealand have chosen Scott Barrett, a lock, to play at blindside flanker, and will look to dominate the line-out and potentially negating kicking for touch as a viable option.

For Sunday’s semi-final Wales are hoping to have centre Jonathan Davies fit after he missed the tense quarter final against France due to a knee injury. The loss of full-back Liam Williams to injury is a major blow.

Whenever Wales depart this tournament it will be the end of Warren Gatland’s tenure as head coach, twelve years during which Welsh rugby has been reinvigorated to the point where there is genuine optimism in the valleys that this could finally be Wales’ time to win the World Cup. A golden period unseen in Wales since the 1970s.

South Africa too have been reinvigorated, but in less than two years, by coach Rassie Erasmus. As the winners of the 2019 Rugby Championship, including a 16-16 tie with New Zealand, the Springboks have plenty of hope about their own chances of lifting the trophy for a third time to sit alongside their historic triumph in 1995 and 2007’s glory.

Thus far the northern hemisphere has only provided one Rugby World Cup winner, England in 2003. Wales are keen to join the short list of nations that have been crowned world champions. The other three, having been there before, will be equally keen to stop them.

England vs New Zealand Live

England vs New Zealand Live : Will the northern or the southern hemisphere emerge on top from the Rugby World Cup semi-finals? Or will the perfectly set-up semi-finals give us another north vs south encounter in the final?

Holders New Zealand face England in the first semi-final on Saturday, while South Africa take on Wales in the second semi-final on Sunday, with both games being hosted in Yokohama. Wales are the only semi-finalist not to have won the trophy before.

Saturday’s semi-final kicks off at 5pm local time (9am BST, 4am ET), while the second match-up is an hour later in Japan (6pm) and an hour later in the US, but the same time in the UK due to the clock change for the end of British Summer Time.

The Rugby World Cup quarter final weekend threatened to be a classic featuring much-anticipated match-ups but, in the end, only the Wales-France game provided the necessary tension. New Zealand cruised past Ireland, England dominated Australia and South Africa weathered the Japanese storm in the first half to comfortably advance.

The All Blacks remain tournament favorites and have mostly been untroubled in their progress to a third consecutive Rugby World Cup championship. The only points dropped by the All Blacks were those lost to Typhoon Hagibis and the only difficulty faced was in the opener against the Springboks, but a devastating five minute spell in the first half, featuring tries by George Bridge and Scott Barrett effectively sealed that victory.

Whitelook and Brodie Retallick are packing down together in the second row for the 54th time and, while the backrow has been reworked to include Barrett at No. 6 and Ardie Savea switching to the openside flank.

Loose-head prop Joe Moody’s No. 1 priority when he packs down against England’s Kyle Sinckler is to get immediately on top.

“Just looking forward to that battle and hopefully getting one up,” he said Friday. We’re facing “a big England forward pack, we know they’re going to be pretty direct and really want to take it to us.

“We’re going to have to be up for it in both attack and defense to be able to match fire with fire. It should be a big old ding-dong battle.”

None of the England players have featured in a World Cup semifinal, but that’s not bothering head coach Eddie Jones. His team led 15-0 in the last meeting before losing 16-15. He took the England job after the team’s pool-stage exit in 2015 and guided them on record-equaling 18-game winning streak.

The Vunipola brothers are starting for England, with Mako at loose-head and Billy at No. 8, where he has formed a strong combination with young flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

England scrum coach Neal Hatley noted New Zealand’s improvement in the set piece but said his forwards were up for the challenge, particularly if it’s wet.

England vs New Zealand

England vs New Zealand : “Both teams are really going to climb into each other at set-piece time,” New Zealand’s assistant coach Ian Foster said on the eve of Saturday’s showdown at Yokohama. “It’s a tactical battle in itself. That’s where the war’s going to be won or lost.”

The All Blacks scrum has improved under the guidance of Mike Cron, and the addition of Scott Barrett on the blindside flank will make it the biggest pack practical to meet England head on. Head coach Steve Hansen said his forwards didn’t get enough credit for their set-piece, so here’s a chance.

The New Zealand forwards have a clear edge in experience, with 514 test caps to England starting pack’s 318. They’ve also got more exposure to the highest level. No. 8 and skipper Kieran Read and lock Sam Whitelock are playing their third World Cups and have never lost a game at the tournament.

Whitelook and Brodie Retallick are packing down together in the second row for the 54th time and, while the backrow has been reworked to include Barrett at No. 6 and Ardie Savea switching to the openside flank.

Loose-head prop Joe Moody’s No. 1 priority when he packs down against England’s Kyle Sinckler is to get immediately on top.

“Just looking forward to that battle and hopefully getting one up,” he said Friday. We’re facing “a big England forward pack, we know they’re going to be pretty direct and really want to take it to us.

“We’re going to have to be up for it in both attack and defense to be able to match fire with fire. It should be a big old ding-dong battle.”

None of the England players have featured in a World Cup semifinal, but that’s not bothering head coach Eddie Jones. His team led 15-0 in the last meeting before losing 16-15. He took the England job after the team’s pool-stage exit in 2015 and guided them on record-equaling 18-game winning streak.

The Vunipola brothers are starting for England, with Mako at loose-head and Billy at No. 8, where he has formed a strong combination with young flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

England scrum coach Neal Hatley noted New Zealand’s improvement in the set piece but said his forwards were up for the challenge, particularly if it’s wet.

It rained heavily on Friday, but it was forecast to clear overnight. Wet weather would suit England, with its heavy reliance on the set piece, and considering New Zealand’s tendency to play expansively.

“They are a very good unit and the last two or three years is evidence of that,” Hatley said. “We have got everything done in the rain and we are used to those conditions where we come from. Even when we have been warm-weather training we have prepared with wet balls to make sure we are prepared for those conditions and it won’t be an issue.”

England lock Courtney Lawes said his team will benefit from the close call against New Zealand last time.

“It was a tough test but we took great confidence from it, confidence that we’re certainly going to take into the game tomorrow,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of great players across the board. So have we. We’ll have two of the best packs going up against each other tomorrow.”

The 30-year-old, 79-test veteran was asked about an episode in the past, when Retallick couldn’t remember Lawes’ name ahead of a game. He suspects that won’t be a problem again.

“If they don’t know,” Lawes said, “they will tomorrow.”

England vs New Zealand Live

England vs New Zealand Live : Jones’ New Zealand counterpart Steve Hansen also made a surprise selection, opting to give Scott Barrett, usually a second row, his first international start as a flanker, dropping Sam Cane to the bench.

Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Saturday, 26 October Kick-off: 09:00 BS

Barrett’s inclusion gives New Zealand a wealth of line-out options, with second rows Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock and number eight Kieran Read also in the line-up.

England slipped to a 16-15 defeat against New Zealand at Twickenham in November as that area of their game stuttered, losing five of their 15 line-outs.

But Dawson believes that it could also be an attempt to beef up his pack more generally.

“You wonder why Hansen would change a winning team. But he and Jones are paid the money to coach a side and make those big calls. Scott Barrett’s inclusion is specifically for how New Zealand want to play. It gives them a bit more bulk.

“Perhaps Hansen feels England have the edge in the set-piece and wanted a bit more bulk.

“It’s a huge weekend for all sports fans. It’s where it all gets ramped up. The pressure-cooker environment of international rugby. For England, it doesn’t get any bigger than playing New Zealand for a place in the World Cup final – it’s the stuff of dreams.

But Dawson believes Jones’ decision to pick two playmakers in his backline, with George Ford at fly-half and Farrell at inside centre, aims to unpick the All Blacks defence.

After defeat in the first Test against New Zealand in 2017, the British and Irish Lions similarly paired Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton with Farrell in midfield and managed to draw the three-match series.

“Jones wants to play fast and furious with lots of phases,” added Dawson. “He sees how New Zealand reorganise as a weakness.

“I was surprised that George Ford was recalled. I have the tiniest bit of concern about him playing under the most enormous pressure. He sometimes hasn’t been able to replicate his club and international form. We’ll find out. Eddie doesn’t see it like that.”

England vs New Zealand

England vs New Zealand : England will dethrone defending champions New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup semi-final if their key players deliver, says Matt Dawson.Rugby World Cup semi-final: England v New Zealand

Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Saturday, 26 October Kick-off: 09:00 BST

New Zealand have won 15 of their past 16 meetings with England and all three of their previous World Cup encounters.

But former England scrum-half Dawson believes Eddie Jones’ side have the ability to upset the odds.

“England have some world-class players. If that group play to their best, England will win,” he told BBC 5 Live.

“It starts with individual performance. The front row, Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell are world class. Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Elliot Daly must step up to that level. Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have got to obliterate the opposition.

“And then England have got to assume that they make no mistakes at the weekend – no offsides, no penalties, nothing. They have got to play the perfect game.”

New Zealand have been in ominous form so far in the tournament, beating southern hemisphere rivals South Africa in the pool stages, before a comprehensive 46-14 victory over Ireland in the last eight racked up their 18th successive Rugby World Cup win – a run dating back to start of the 2011 edition.

In Japan, New Zealand have averaged more points (51), tries (7.3), metres made (642), clean breaks (22), defenders beaten (39) and offloads (17) per match than any other team,

But Dawson believes Jones’ decision to pick two playmakers in his backline, with George Ford at fly-half and Farrell at inside centre, aims to unpick the All Blacks defence.

After defeat in the first Test against New Zealand in 2017, the British and Irish Lions similarly paired Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton with Farrell in midfield and managed to draw the three-match series.

“Jones wants to play fast and furious with lots of phases,” added Dawson. “He sees how New Zealand reorganise as a weakness.

“I was surprised that George Ford was recalled. I have the tiniest bit of concern about him playing under the most enormous pressure. He sometimes hasn’t been able to replicate his club and international form. We’ll find out. Eddie doesn’t see it like that.”