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England vs New Zealand Semi-Final

What a match!

England have reached the Rugby World Cup Final following a dominant 19-7 victory over the two-time defending champions New Zealand. The All Blacks came into the match as marginal favourites, but were unable to overcome an England side who were almost flawless in defence. From the moment the Haka was greeted with a defiant English reaction, epitomised by Owen Farrell’s smirk, the men in white controlled proceedings.
A sublime passage of play, littered with offloads, ended with Manu Tuilagi, the man who inspired England to their last victory over the All Blacks in 2012, crossing over within two minutes. Although England only managed to add three points to their score for a 10-0 lead at half time, it didn’t do justice to their dominance, enjoying 62% of the possession and 69% of territory in the first 40 minutes. However, there wouldn’t have been a single relaxed England fan around the country, especially with Farrell seemingly injured and the All Black’s reputation for a comeback, notably the 15-point deficit overcome the last time these two sides met.
Yet the nerves were unheralded, as England continued to command the match, extending their lead to 13 points. Although the imperious Ardie Savea pulled the reigning champions back within a score following an overthrown English line out, that was the only time the English try line was seriously threatened all game. Two further George Ford penalties extended England’s lead to 19-7, and out of their opponent’s reach.
It was a truly remarkable game, and one which has left the rugby world in shock. Not just from the fact that England won, but the dominant nature in which they did so. Especially when put in perspective, with New Zealand having won their 18 previous world cup matches, and utterly dispatched Ireland in last week’s quarter final, this England performance was outstanding. Arguably the final score line flattered the All Blacks, with two England tries disallowed following marginal calls by the TMO.
That said, the subdued English reaction at the full-time whistle was telling. Following the most complete English rugby performance in living memory, there was only one focus. Next week. The World Cup Final. Wales or South Africa await. And if this week is anything to go by. We are in for a treat.

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