by Callum Ellis
ENGLAND secured a memorable victory over New Zealand to progress through to their fourth World Cup final.
Manu Tuilagi got England off to a flyer and it was a strong defensive performance from Eddie Jones’ men that ultimately helped them on their way to a famous win in Yokohama.
Ardie Savea responded for New Zealand in the second-half but it wasn’t enough to forge a late All Blacks comeback.
After 3 turnovers won (most of any player) and 7 lineouts won (most), @maroitoje won the @mastercard Player of the Match for England v New Zealand #StartSomethingPriceless #POTM #RWC2019 #ENGvNZL pic.twitter.com/lcNPbaTty4
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 26, 2019
Jones made one change from the quarter-final triumph over Australia, restoring George Ford at fly-half, as Owen Farrell shifted to inside-centre and Henry Slade dropped to the bench.
Steve Hansen, meanwhile, also threw up a surprise with Sam Cane making way for lock Scott Barrett in the All Blacks’ back row.
England made a lightning start as Tuilagi burrowed over with less than two minutes on the clock, dabbing down from close range with the quickest try that the All Blacks have conceded in World Cup history. It was Tuilagi’s third of the tournament and Owen Farrell added the extras from the conversion.
The Red Rose nearly had a second when the try scorer Tuilagi intercepted Beauden Barrett’s loose pass before finding Jonny May. May – who was declared fit after an injury scare against Australia in the quarter-final – appeared to be struggling as he galloped down the wing but Scott Barrett tracked back well and the ball went forward to prevent Jones’ side from mustering their second.
Sam Underhill thought he had his first score of the tournament after he went over under the posts from Kyle Sinckler’s pass. But the try was chalked off by the TMO Marius Jonker after the dummy runner Sam Curry was adjudged to have obstructed Sam Whitelock from making a tackle on Sinckler in the build-up.
New Zealand looked to respond as Brodie Retallick powered forward and the quick-hands of full-back Barrett found Jack Goodhue. But the England defence stood firm and Goodhue was bundled into touch.
The Kiwis were rattled and Ford looked to add to his side’s tally with a drop-goal. The fly-half, however, dragged his effort wide of the posts but ensured England did have another three points on the board before the interval. New Zealand were punished for going in at the side in the final stages of the first-half and Ford sent the resulting penalty sailing though the posts with the final act of the first-half.
Whitelock was penalised for obstructing Ben Youngs in the opening stages of the second-half and Daly opted to go for goal but struck wide of the posts. And the TMO came to New Zealand’s rescue for the second time when Youngs dummied and darted over following a maul. But Jonker deemed the ball had been lost forward in the maul and the try was scratched off.
Cane was then penalised for putting his shoulder into Billy Vunipola and Ford added three points with the penalty.
The All Blacks hit back just before the hour-mark with only their third visit to England’s 22. Jamie George’s line-out sailed past Maro Itoje and fell to Savea who gathered the ball and strolled over, with Mo’unga added the extras.
But Ford booted two penalties over in quick succession to increase England’s advantage to 12 points, ensuring there would be no way back for the All Blacks to claw their way back into the game.
The result means either Wales or South Africa, who meet in the other semi-final tomorrow, stand between the Red Rose and them lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time.
The @AllBlacks had not lost a World Cup game in 12 years…
…and they had won 15 of their past 16 games against England.
— BBC Rugby Union (@bbcrugbyunion) October 26, 2019
England: Daly, Watson, Tuilagi, Farrell, May, Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Lawes, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Cole, Kruis, Wilson, Heinz, Slade, Joseph.
New Zealand: B Barrett, Reece, Goodhue, Lienert-Brown, Bridge, Mo’unga, Smith; Moody, Taylor, Laulala, Retallick, Whitelock, Barrett, Savea, Read.
Replacements: Coles, Tuungafasi, Ta’avao, Tuipulotu, Cane, Perenara, Williams, J Barrett.