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How England are dealing with the weight of history before second Test

By PA
England huddle together during the International Test Match between New Zealand All Blacks and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England second row Alex Coles believes a famous victory at Eden Park is there for the taking if greater accuracy is shown in the second Test against New Zealand.

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Steve Borthwick’s men opened the series with a spirited 16-15 defeat in Dunedin that left them reflecting on how they allowed a rare opportunity to triumph on Kiwi soil slip from their grasp.

Marcus Smith missed two penalties and a conversion, there were vulnerabilities at the scrum and breakdown and the replacements bench were unable to make an impact, yet England still led 15-10 heading into the final quarter.

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What the All Blacks learnt about England in the series opener | Steinlager Series

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What the All Blacks learnt about England in the series opener | Steinlager Series

“It was such fine margins so it’s about how can we get five per cent more in our advantage so we get that extra bit of territory or don’t give a penalty away,” Coles told BBC Sport.

“It’s actually really small things, there is no quick fix. There wasn’t anything underlying really that let us down, but a few things here and there.

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“As a whole our gameplan went well and has given us belief that we can be really successful and it’s just can we execute that a little bit better.”

New Zealand have a fearsome record at Eden Park having not lost at their Auckland stronghold since 1994, a sequence spanning 49 Tests.

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“We’re not shying away from the fact they have this record, but it’s not playing too much of a part in our preparation,” Coles said.

“As a team we’re not going to focus on that too much. We just have to go out there and do our gameplan a little bit better.”

England have named their sides for each of their two previous tour matches 48 hours early, but they could revert to the customary Thursday slot for the final fixture of the season as Borthwick works out the details of his team selection.

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All Black second row Brodie Retallick joins Jim Hamilton for the latest episode of Walk the Talk, touching on life in Japan, RWC 2023 and the future of All Black rugby. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

6 Comments
J
Jimmy 13 days ago

IMO England had their best chance in Dunedin, ABs better off now after having a challenging hit out.

N
Neil 14 days ago

I think the game will be an easier win to NZ. The first test was the first time the ABs have played together since November last year. There would have been some rust and first time nerves for some. And now they've seen what the English are coming at them with, they’ll have a chance to come up with a plan to counter the rush defence and practise it for a week.

N
NeilB_Denver 14 days ago

Which pressure is greater; breaking an unbeaten record or defending an unbeaten record?

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Wonton 4 hours ago
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One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 5 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

15 Go to comments
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