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Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi explain England's response to the haka

By Online Editors

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Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi have explained England’s response to the haka moments before their crunch semi-final with New Zealand.


The men in white produced one of their greatest performances to end New Zealand’s bid for a third successive Rugby World Cup, outplaying the defending champions with an epic 19-7 semi-final win in Japan.

England dominated on Saturday from the outset, looked sharper, faster, stronger and more disciplined. The All Blacks had not lost a World Cup match since the 2007 quarter-finals but barely threatened.

The victory sweeps England into their fourth final and first since 2007. They will seek their second cup against South Africa or Wales after their 2003 victory and are still the only northern hemisphere country to triumph.

England scored after 90 seconds through centre Manu Tuilagi and built their lead through brilliant goalkicking by recalled flyhalf George Ford.

(Continue reading below…)


New Zealand, who had won 15 of the teams’ past 16 meetings, managed only a gifted try to flanker Ardie Savea.

After defying officials and lining up against the haka in a V formation, England backed it up once the whistle had sounded with Tuilagi’s try after a sustained, high-paced assault that swept the width of the pitch.

Farrell explained that he felt England had couldn’t let the All Blacks just ‘come at’ them.


“We knew we had to be within a radius behind them and we wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us. We wanted to keep a respectful distance but we didn’t just want to stand in a flat line and let them come at us.”

“The feeling’s calm. Going into the game, building up to it, we feel in control of what we’re doing and that comes from our preparation. The work that we put in in the week – you can’t fake that when you’re out there in a big test match. When they scored points today, we were the calmest we’ve been after that.”

Manu Tuilagi described it as an honour to face the haka. “Everyone wanted to show that we were ready and together. It was something different that I think Eddie suggested. It was to show we were ready to accept the challenge against New Zealand and any game against them is tough particularly in a semi-final. You have to make all your tackles, use all the possession really well and we did that today.”

“For me it is an honour to stand in front of the haka and I watched it growing up as a kid and you want to do it yourself. To see them do it again, it is an unbelievable feeling. It is a challenge and you respect it and accept it.”

Hard-tackling Underhill chimed in, saying: “We know the haka is the New Zealand team laying down the challenge and we wanted to show in a small way that we were up for it.”

All Blacks captain Kieran Read claimed the haka and its response had no effect on the game. “The haka had no impact on the game. They dominated the breakdown and we couldn’t work into our game and we were chasing. They did a good job. The boys really wanted it. You could see it in the first half, we conceded and we hung in there. It is pretty gutting when it doesn’t go your way.”

England set the template for the half, with dual playmakers Farrell and Ford full of speed and creativity. The All Blacks, who hardly ventured into England’s 22, would have been relieved to reach halftime only 10-0 down after Ford kicked a late penalty and an Underhill try was ruled out by the TMO.

The only previous time New Zealand had failed to score in the first half of a World Cup match was when they were beaten by Australia in the 1991 semis. A year ago, they came back from 15-0 down at Twickenham to triumph 16-15.

England piled on the pressure immediately in the second half, but suffered another TMO setback when Ben Youngs’ try was ruled out for a knock-on after six minutes.

A Ford penalty made it 13-0 as New Zealand continued to make rare mistakes. But they were invited back into the game when, for the first time, England’s lineout went wrong and Jamie George threw the ball straight into the arms of Savea, who fell over the line.

England hit back immediately after a huge hit on Jordie Barrett by Underhill forced a knock-on and, from the subsequent attack, New Zealand offended on their line again and Ford kicked another penalty to make it 16-7.

Ford, taking over kicking duties after Farrell had been hit hard in the first half, added another to give England breathing space and, led by the extraordinary Maro Itoje, they continued to tackle strongly as the All Blacks became desperate but ran out of time.

– AAP/additional reporting RugbyPass

WATCH: World Rugby’s highlights from the England versus New Zealand semi-final 


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