England v New Zealand predictions

Normally I get excited on Friday that it’s time to make my SportGuru picks, but the prospect of predicting England to lose heavily is not much fun.

I wonder if Johnno is playing SportGuru as well, and picked New Zealand to win by fewer than 10 points. Perhaps he looked at the players he had available and chose the biggest, oldest lumps he could find to ensure that his prediction was as close as possible.

Predictions game or not, that’s what he has done – everyone seems to agree that this is a ‘damage limitation’ selection, and not a side that will create space, play some rugby and win the game. How disappointing.

The All Blacks, on the other hand, are pretty much at full-strength. Richie McCaw and Dan Carter will be running the show, but players like rookie Zac Guildford, Number 8 Kieran Read and old favourites Mils Muliaina, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Sitiveni Sivivatu will give England a torrid time.

In a strange sort of way, I’m looking forward to seeing these players in full flight. We will hopefully see some creative rugby, some attacking flair and a passion for the game that isn’t always obvious when watching England.

I don’t think they’ll be too worried about England’s defensive approach – performing the Haka and seeing backs like Ayoola Erinle, Matt Banahan and Dan Hipkiss watching them is going to make them lick their lips, and as much as England will try to slow them down, they will probably run riot.

My SportGuru prediction: New Zealand by 23

What do you think? Am I being too negative about our chances? Does anyone think that we’ll turn them over and finish the Autumn on a high?

20 thoughts on “England v New Zealand predictions

  1. I went to last year’s game and although it was disappointing to see England get tonked then, watching the All Blacks in full flow was a sight to be hold. I think Mealamu and Nonu ran a great switch for one of the tries (if I remember correctly, was a few pints in by that point). I’m optimistic and went for the ABs by 21.

  2. England will fight valiantly for 40 then cave NZ by 25!

    Why does no coach ever approach the Autumn internationals like they should ie try out new things it is as close to a risk free environment as you will get in international rugby and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we would all much rather see England go down by 30 points but playing exciting rugby and building towards a dynamic attractive running game than loose by 5 or even win by a couple of points playing the same old turgid rubbish they have been doing for the last 6 years!

  3. Too negative? No. Too positive, more like.

    I think the final score will be something like 45-12. I’d take the Over on your guess of a spread of 28.

  4. Hopefully England will come out and play rather than just kick poorly. That way, when NZ beat us by at least 30 points it won’t feel as bad as it did when they won last week. Maybe…

    Either way I’ll be cheering them on from Twickenham’s west stand.


  5. Could be pretty painful to watch I think. I don’t think NZ are anything like the team they have brought over for either of the last two years, but it’s a poor England side, and they’ll be sitting back, resting on their laurels having scored their annual autumn try last week, matching the previous year’s autumn try haul.

    I expect us to get totally outplayed but I expect a margin more like 15 – 20 points in NZ’s favour. I expect we will employ our usual “20 phases to gain two yards” move at least 20 times, and that combined with hoofing every other bit of possession we get, should starve NZ of enough time in possession to give us a real arse-kicking. The real star for England will probably be the weather too – that should keep the scoreline down. Doesn’t lend itself to fast attacking rugby at the moment.

    Having said all of the above, one thing that does worry me is the potential for indiscipline. Whenever Lewis Moody puts in two good performances in a row and keeps his cool, I start to wonder how long it will last! I hope he keeps his cool though and completes what’s been a good series for him personally.

    Remember JW’s try under the posts against NZ in 2002? You will never see a better example of how to play the advantage rule – try something outrageous – it might come off, and if it doesn’t you get the penalty. Why is it that when we get penalty advantage now we just try phase after phase of pick and drives out of the ruck? Look at the backline JW’s got around him tomorrow and it makes me think that he’s probably our best chance of a try again tomorrow.

  6. I can’t believe i am writing this but i honestly hope we get dicked on Sat. If we win or even get close (by which i mean less than 15 points) then it will give the coaches an excuse to defend this horrific approach to the game which is ruining it.

    I never had much time with the SH carping of the early 2000’s that our “win at all costs approach” was ruining the game/not in the spirit of rugby. But you know what, i now agree. The difference is that in the early 2000’s we could win and play an attractive game, but when push came to shove we would take a win rather than a pretty failure. That was right then but as everyone knows, we aren’t even close to that now

    Get pummeled by th AB’s and at least there is going to be some pressure on this team – from Rob Andrew through to all the coaches – and then we can finally get the right person at the helm of the team rather than this bunch of misguided conservatives harking back to the 80’s belief that the ball was something to be scared of and we would all be much better off kicking it as far off the pitch as possible…

  7. Ooh Garnetto, you’re leaving yourself open to some venom there – you are the Josh Lewsey of the Rugby Blog!

    I know what you mean though, you’re only saying that because you feel it will be best for England in the long term. Sadly, unlike you no one involved in the England team thinks beyond the next game. Well, that’s my reading of it anyway – it could be that they think Erinle and Shaw are the future of English rugby. Not knocking Shaw by the way, who I think has been one of the most under-rated players of recent years, but why pick a 36-year old two years before a RWC?

    If we do get stuffed tomorrow, I won’t enjoy it – as I’m sure you won’t – but I totally agree with you that it might just shake a few things up in a way that’s much needed.

  8. I’m not sure what the best result would be. Changes certainly need to be made to the coaching team, but I think we are probably stuck with this lot until after RWC11. A big hiding by the All Blacks will just be painful, without bringing about any change.

    However, at least we might finally see some rugby at Twickenham, and perhaps they’ll give the England players a lesson in how the game should be played.

    Live updates again tomorrow. Will it be as depressing as last week??

  9. To stand any hope of not being humilated England need to secure quick ball from the breakdown and the backline needs to play much flatter than they did against Argentina. Simple. If any of you saw the Rugby Club last night, the comparision between England’s back play last weekend and in the halcyon days of 2003 was shocking. How many times did England cross the gainline last weekend? Exactly. Most of the time they went backwards then kicked the ball away. I just hope they don’t try the same this weekend otherwise Carter and chums will have a field day.


  10. I hate saying it Rob – no one likes a neersayer – but having staunchly got behind MJ and the lads i just get so depressed seeing such abject lack of ambition. I honestly can say that my £70 last week was the worst cash i have ever spent on sport (and i’ve been to some proper stinkers…)

    I remember the chat in the last days of Robinson’s reign with everyone saying “you can’t change this close to the World Cup” but we did and got to the final (although granted that was nothng to do with the coaches!).

    Look how quickly Gatland et al turned around the Welsh team. It happens in football all the time – look at Capello Vs. McLaren.

    You’ve just got to have the balls to do it – and that is something sadly lacking inside Rugby House i fear

  11. I never understood why they didn’t bring MJ in as Forwards coach he could have done that with his eyes closed and it would have given him the expericence needed to then go on to become the Head coach later on. Throwing him in with no prior experience was a massive error! I say demote him to frowards coach get Shaun Edwards back to England no matter how much it costs and get Toby Booth in as head coach that would be a brilliant setup! And england might finally move out of the rutt we have been in for the last 6 years!

  12. The management do not believe that the tactics they are employing are wrong. The players might but they can’t say it because then they’ll be black-balled.

    What is this drivel from Cueto?:

    “Regardless of how you play, you’re going to be criticised.

    If we win by 20 points, the press will find something to criticise us for.”

    That’s the exact opposite of the reality! Play positive, attractive and innovative rugby and lose narrowly (a la Lions) and the press, public and even the opposition can see that you deserve almost the same praise as the winners!


    Nick Heath – can you ask them why there is such a discrepancy between what 90% of the press and public are seeing and what they think is actually going on?

    I’ve never felt this negative about English rugby – and i’m certain that it’s not me that’s changed!

  13. I think I’m with Garnetto. We’ve seen enough to know that Johhno’s not going to be successful in this role. His only hope would have been to get a bunch of decent coaches together, but his defiant insistence that the coaches are fine demonstrates that he doesn’t get it (I know he’s not going to admit they are weak publicly, but to put up such a vehement display in their defence tells me he really means it – in other words he doesn’t know what good looks like). And his whole selection philosophy is a joke. So for me, this needs to be ugly.

    I don’t think it’s too late for us to make a change before RWC 2011. It’s pretty clear that nobody at HQ has the balls to admit their mistake and fire him, but I like Wetpants’ (how did you get that nickname, please share) suggestion that he could be a decent forwards coach, and maybe that could be a face-saving move for everyone.

    I will go for the AB’s by 25. We will start fairly well, but will leak tries in the second half. Taking into account the comments from some of the AB players this week that they need to be more ruthless in putting points away once they have secured a commanding lead, it may be more like 35.

  14. Bamberio – I hear what you’re saying, and totally agree that we should stand a lot flatter and take opponents on. But it’ll take more than that to match 2003. Selection is still the main problem.

    Let’s compare the backlines:

    (A) Dawson, Wilkinson, Cohen, Robinson, Greenwood, Tindall, Robinson, Lewsey.


    (B) Hodgson, Wilkinson, Monye, Erinle (why???), Hipkiss (I like him, but his form is crap), Banahan (why??) and that well-known highly experienced specialist international full-back Cueto.

    Just reading that first set of names almost brings a smile to my face. Reading the second just makes me depressed.

    I remember watching the final in 2003 and having to drink Stella at breakfast time (which I don’t normally do, honest), because it was just so tense that I could barely stand to watch.

    I have a feeling that tomorrow will be pretty hard to watch too, but for very different reasons.

  15. Stella? I’d go for intravenous jaegermeister Igbo were you…

    And as for wetpants – well it’s quite simple. What kind of man lays up on an 90yd par 3 pitch and putt? A man with very soggy underwear clearly…

  16. England talk a good game and play a poor one. They should be building towards 2011 not “falling back” on the old guard. Garnetto and Rob Watson are right – England don’t appear to think beyond the next game. Does anyone know what Rob Andrew, the ELITE Director of Rugby, actually does? He doesn’t even appear to attend the games!!

  17. Interesting to see Baron’s reign is coming to an end. I wonder if he will be replaced by someone with balls, who knows the game and is committing to making us the best team in the world. If so, then Andrew will be following Baron pretty quickly out the door.

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