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

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.


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.

New Zealand
24 - 17
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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.


“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.


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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Jimmy 13 days ago

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

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.

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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