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Rugby News

England topple champion All Blacks

An early try from Manu Tuilagi set England on the way to the Rugby World Cup Final with a 19-7 win over New Zealand in the semi-final in Japan on Saturday.

Leicester Tigers centre Tuilagi scored after just 98 seconds as England got off to a perfect start – as they have so regularly under Eddie Jones – and they looked in control throughout in a clinical performance against the defending champions.

Tuilagi was joined by club colleagues George Ford – who kicked 12 points – and Ben Youngs, Jonny May and Dan Cole on a memorable day.

After some impressive early control, the forwards took play to within reach of the tryline and Tuilagi stepped in to drop over and score. Owen Farrell added the conversion.

It was all England in the opening spell and, even when they were not on the ball, they made it uncomfortable for their rivals with the force of defence all over the field.

Tuilagi’s next intervention turned defence into attack as he intercepted a pass in the All Blacks backline and spun to set England away on the left but May’s space was cut down 30 metres out.

Sam Underhill was denied a try when he ran in next to the posts, only for referee Nigel Owens and the TMO to agree on an obstruction from England in the build-up, the first of two disallowed scores on the day.

But the Red Rose still dominated field position, denying even a chance for the All Blacks in attack, and although Ford was off target with a drop-goal shot on 32 minutes, he ended the half with a 40-metre penalty to put England 10 ahead.

May left the field on 44 minutes, just before clubmate Youngs thought he’d run in a World Cup try. The scrum-half darted from an England maul to get over the tryline but consultation with the TMO determined that control had been lost in the transition of the ball at the maul.

Cole entered the fray with England still on the attack on 47 minutes before Ford added a simple penalty to make it 13-0.

England had been in almost total control but, after Tuilagi had worked hard to close out the All Blacks in the corner with the assistance of Henry Slade, their rivals were suddenly back in the game with a try from Ardie Savea, latching on to an overthrown lineout just five metres from the tryline to score.

But in the next attack, England twice had penalty advantage close to the line before play was finally brought back for Ford to kick his own three-pointer, making it 16-7 with a quarter of the game remaining.

Youngs left the field as the game restarted and, although the All Blacks were enjoying probably their best spell of territory, they still met defiant defence and Ford stretched the lead to 19-7 with his fourth penalty entering the final 10 minutes.