England and New Zealand contest the first of the Rugby World Cup semi final's at the Yokohama International Stadium on Saturday in what should be the All Blacks toughest defence of the world title so far.
England v New Zealand, Saturday 26th October, Yokohama, KO 10:00 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Yokohama Stadium
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
England booked their semi final place with a 40-16 victory over the Wallabies last Saturday. Jonny May scored 2 of his sides 4 tries in the space of 3 first half minutes and England led 17-9 at the break. Australia reduced the deficit to a single point early in the second half but England pulled away to justify confidence amongst many of our punters who latched on to the minus handicap which had been set at around 8.5 points. Owen Farrell had an excellent day, converting all 4 tries and landing 4 penalties.
England topped Pool C with a record of 3 wins and 1 draw and that draw was derived from a cancelled game against France which would have been staged at this venue. England's victories came against Tonga (35-3), USA (45-7) and Argentina (39-10). Including the quarter final result England have scored 21 tries in the tournament and they have conceded just 3.
Jonny May and Luke Cowan-Dickie have both scored 3 tries for England in the tournament so far, George Ford, Joe Cokanasiga and Manua Tuilagi have all scored 2.
This will be England's first appearance in the semi finals since 2007 when they beat France in Paris but went on to lose the final to South Africa. Overall England have contested 4 RWC semi finals, winning 3 and losing 1.
England are trading in the 4/1 to 9/2 range to win the tournament.
New Zealand cruised past Ireland (46-14) in their quarter final on Sunday. They started as 12 point favourites and 2 first half tries from Aaron Smith and another from Beauden Barrett saw them go into the break 22-0 to the good. Ireland didn't get on the scoreboard until the 69th minute when the game was long since gone and the All Blacks try count clocked in at 7.
The All Blacks began their campaign in Yokohama with a 23-13 win over the Springboks and went on to complete a 63-0 win over Canada and 71-9 victory over Namibia. Their final pool match against Italy was cancelled and taking the quarter final result into account New Zealand have scored 29 tries and conceded just 3.
Jordie Barrett is the leading try scorer for the All Blacks with 3 whilst 8 other players have scored 2 tries in the tournament so far.
The winner of this game will face either Wales or South Africaand New Zealand are trading in the range of 8/10 to 5/6 to win the tournament.
This will be the eighth semi final appearance for the All Blacks who edged out South Africa (20-18) in the 2015 semis before beating the Wallabies in the final. Their overall record in RWC semi finals comprises of 4 wins and 3 defeats.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Cody Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Jordie Barrett
Head to Head
The All Blacks have won 15 of the last 16 head to heads with England's only victory coming at Twickenham in an end of year international in 2012.
The teams have only met once in the last once in the last 5 years, a November international at Twickenham in 2018 which the All Blacks edged 16-15.
There have been 3 past meetings between these nations in the RWC and the All Blacks have won all 3;
In RWC 1999 New Zealand won a pool stage match at Twickenham 30-16
In RWC 1995 New Zealand won a semi final clash in Cape Town 45-29
In RWC 1991 New Zealand won a pool stage match at Twickenham 18-12
Most Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2018 INT Twickenham England 15-16 New Zealand (Tries 2-1)
2014 INT Twickenham England 21-24 New Zealand (Tries 2-3)
2014 INT Hamilton New Zealand 36-13 England (Tries 5-1)
2014 INT Dunedin New Zealand 28-27 England (Tries 3-3)
2014 INT Hamilton New Zealand 20-15 England (Tries 1-0)
2013 INT Twickenham England 22-30 New Zealand (Tries 1-3)
2012 INT Twickenham England 38-21 New Zealand (Tries 3-3)
Early Betting – Match Result
New Zealand 4/10
England +7.5 points at 9/10
New Zealand -7.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
What a match up we have here and whoever wins will start the final as favourites. I have been on England since the tournament started and while the New Zealand win over Ireland made me sit up and take notice I still believe this England side can win it. Due to my large overall interest in England at 9/2 I will only take a small handicap interest at this point (the +7.5 would have arrived in 4 of the last 5 head to heads between the sides) but will update this preview with other bets when the points lines are out.
Update 09h05 26/10: I am expecting a tight contest and although conditions have improved after rain yesterday under 42.5 points is my main bet.
Bet: 4 units u42.5 points at 9/10 generally available
The Handicap, RWC Semi Final Preview