Autumn Internationals 2012: England v New Zealand Prediction

All Blacks

England’s autumn comes to a close this weekend, with the very real possibility that they will walk away with a solitary victory against Fiji to their names. New Zealand are in town, and the All Blacks are as complete a team as you could hope to watch these days. However, after having most of their squad struck down by a severe sickness this week, is there a glimmer of hope for England?

Reasons to back England

Little is expected this weekend. Against Australia and South Africa the fans and media alike demanded victories, and on both occasions everyone came away disappointed they couldn’t overcome opposition that was very beatable. This weekend, however, they will be well aware they are playing the best team in the world, and for all the brave talk in the week of ‘the All Blacks are beatable’, the players will head into the match knowing nobody really expects them to win. With a bit of luck though, this might allow them to loosen the shackles and play a bit of rugby. New Zealand may have recorded 3 comfortable victories so far, but their usually miserly defence has been a little leaky, conceding two tries to Wales and three to Scotland. That will give England hope that they might be able to cross the whitewash, having failed to do so last week.

In terms of selection, some might be disappointed to see Freddie Burns on the bench rather than starting. Everyone is hoping Burns can replicate his Premiership form on the international stage, and if he can do so this weekend he will certainly cause the All Blacks’ defence some problems. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Owen Farrell’s bizarre ascension to the list of candidates for IRB Player of the Year spurs him on to greater things on the pitch. The only other change comes on the bench, where Courtney Lawes returns after a long injury lay-off. Lawes will add plenty of ballast when introduced, and will relish the chance to run hard at tired legs. Hopefully, Lancaster will give the likes of Burns and Joseph some game time, being as they are two players likely to feature heavily in the future of this England team. They may be raw, but with nobody expecting a win what is the harm in giving them half an hour’s exposure to the best team in the world?

Reasons to back New Zealand
This is an incredibly inexperienced England outfit facing the best team in the world. One word that sums up England’s autumn thus far is naïve, something you cannot afford to be against the All Blacks. England’s decision making has been poor at times, and New Zealand will look to punish any rushes of blood to the head. Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, and Owen Farrell were all guilty of kicking aimlessly last weekend, and with the likes of Israel Dagg and Julien Savea to run it back at them this weekend they will have to be a lot better.

Dan Carter returns to the starting lineup, looking in possibly the form of his life – but then how often does he really have a bad game? Not that they really missed him, mind you, as Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett have looked worthy understudies. Andrew Hore’s disappointingly short ban will still see him miss this weekend, but with Kevin Mealamu to take his place it is arguable whether they have actually weakened the team or not. Indeed, young Dane Coles has looked destructive in his appearances from the bench and the future of that position looks pretty safe.

In the backs Carter will look to release Nonu and Smith, who form easily the most destructive centre partnership in the world, combining power and pace with the intelligence and awareness that comes through playing together for years. There has been a lot of talk about Tuilagi becoming the ‘new Nonu’, but for that to happen he has many, many more strings to add to his bow. Scrum half has been perhaps the one position where New Zealand haven’t boasted a world-class player, but young Aaron Smith has quickly put paid to that. All in all New Zealand rugby looks in rude health.

Even the most glaringly naïve England fan will have trouble predicting a home victory in this one. The only hope for England is for New Zealand to have one of those rare off days, but with little riding on the match you would expect them to be relaxed and play with the attacking abandon they have become famous for. Even if that did fail them, they still have an imposing pack and one of the best kickers in the world to grind them out a victory. Sadly, it is not likely to be a fairy tale win for the men in white. New Zealand by 15.

By Jamie Hosie

18 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2012: England v New Zealand Prediction

  1. Think the fact I didn’t even bother to read the “Reasons to back New Zealand” section just about says it all…!

    However I think 15 is a bit harsh – England could keep the loss in single figures if they can keep a tight defence and stop giving the bloody ball away. They only leaked one try against SA and Aus, and the two against Fiji were after we’d won the game (no disrespect intended).

    Despite my above optimism, I still can’t see a home win though :o(

  2. I can see us getting taught a lesson that grit, commitment, endeavour, intensity and discipline is nowhere near enough against pace, power, fitness, vision and skill.

    As long as we learn the lesson that having no attacking threat from a 10 and a 12 isn’t the way to go then it will be a valuable lesson.

    Only chance is for some early scrum penalties (I would pick our props, starting and replacement, over theirs in the tight), build a lead and have the crowd go nuts. Can’t see the ABs getting rattled though as they have come from behind in so many games and have the confidence in their ability to score quickly from anywhere.

    Can’t argue with ABs by 15 :-(

    1. one of the greatest things about hindsight is that people like can stand oit as beong people that jusr shouldnt value yiur own opinion as much as u do.. 10 and 12 hmm?

  3. Anything under 10 points would be pleasing.

    I think Savea’s defence needs to be tested and England need to turn him and see how he copes. But for that to be done, the kicking needs to be pin-point accurate and the chase needs to be spot on. Other-wise we’ll just be giving points away.

    If we can do that, not drop anything, drive their forwards and Nonu back in the tackle, shackle Conrad Smith, ruck over and past the ball to keep McCaw’s thieving hands off it, use the pick and go to stop their defence spreading out (as it did vs Wales) and counter-ruck on their ball to disrupt it, then we just might be able to lose by less than 10

      1. Thanks.

        Unfortunately I am expecting us to kick straight to Savea, consistently drop the ball, get knocked back in the tackle, let Smith through massive gaps, leave one back contesting the ball vs McCaw, spread the ball to forwards standing uselessly in mid-field and allow them quick ball.

        So a loss by at least 20 then

  4. World cup winner will greenwood is backing england this weekend?
    NZ are an easy team to stop if you kill their pace. Take away carter and co’s time, keep McCaw off the ball and they struggle to play, even start to force it a little. Its what happened against the pumas in the rugby championship. I hate to say it, but if anyone is going to help tom wood nail carter Farrell is as good as anyone.

  5. So easy to stop James that every other side in the World has managed it this past year or so ? Unless you mean keeping the score down which I’m afraid a loss by only 15 would just about represent .

  6. I’ve predicted England by 1 on SuperBru, but it’s beyond optimism in the blind hope category.

    Other predictions for the game:
    – Kicking from hand to be poor
    – NZ to run hard at Owen Farrell
    – Lawes to come on like a man possessed and get a yellow card
    – Youngs’ throwing to be severely tested
    – Carter to win the battle of the two best fly-halves in the world (according to IRB)

    1. And a few more ….

      – Farrell’s passing percentage to be too low, some nice passes but too many errors so we can’t get any phases going.
      – Ditto Youngs
      – Youngs, Tuilagi, Goode, Brown and Ashton will all make a line break, none of which will have good enough support running to convert into a score.
      – Barritt to make more tackles than metres
      – Farrell to make more tackles than metres
      – ABs to score a try from a kick return

      Lawes has been hitting pretty low and with arms from what I’ve seen since his return, so I’m hopeful he’ll stay on the pitch!

  7. We’re due an upset, but I’m approaching this weekend’s game more in hope than expectation, unlike the last two weeks. The one thing I’d really like to see , other than a win obviously, is for Burns to come on and do well, so that our 10s for the 6n are Burns (starting) and Farrel. Flood has had 50 caps to prove himself, let’s stop flogging the dead horse. Farrell may be limited but what he does do well is very good at. Wayne Smith was very complimentary about him, though feels he is a 12 not a 10. I guarantee if Burns comes on it will be for Barritt with Farrell moving to 12 and taking the kicks.

      1. Agreed, think it’s probably better than Farrell’s if anything. At the moment the only facet Farrell comes out on top is tackling in my opinion.

    1. Staggy I’m not saying I agree but I think this will happen. Burns seems to be the only English 10 who drops goals can’t remember flood or Farrell doing this successfully. Could be very handy.

  8. yeah, I picked England by 1 last week with the cautious optimism that they might just do it, but if they didn’t it would hopefully be close enough for my margin point.

    However, heart and head are in alignment on this one, it’s no victory for England (though I’m obviously still upbeat about the idea of a massive upset). I called New Zealand by 10. If England relax in their position and try to do stuff sensibly instead of rushing and butchering every run they might score a bit more and concede a bit less so I’d call that +/- 5

  9. England need to be careful, one slip up on the day, new zealand will take advantage of it and could destroy the game in a matter of minutes!

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