Simon Mail previews this weekend's clash at Twickenham with England facing the ultimate test against world champions New Zealand...
"This is the first meeting between the teams for four years and New Zealand have predictably held the upper hand. The All Blacks have won the last five games against England and beaten them in 14 of the last 15 clashes."
England v New Zealand
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England face huge test
England lifted some of the pessimism surrounding their team with a much-needed victory over South Africa but Eddie Jones' side face the ultimate test in rugby this weekend. It does not get any tougher than taking the all-conquering All Blacks and the world champions are next up for England.
Their 12-11 win over the Springboks was remarkable in many ways because England should have been out of the contest at half-time. South Africa were totally dominant but failed to take advantage of their territory and possession. England stayed within touching distance and the boot of Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly edged them home. There was still a big let off at the end when Farrell made a dangerous tackle on Andre Esterhuizen but England fortunately escaped punishment.
Considering the poor run of form England came into the game with and the spate of injuries, particularly in the back row, this was a very significant win. Granted England did not play well, especially in the first half, but led by inspirational co-captain Farrell, they dug out a result and defended superbly. This result has sent them into the New Zealand clash with more belief even if a big improvement is required to threaten the world champions.
Jones has decided to give Chris Ashton his opportunity with the winger starting his first match for England for four years in place of Jack Nowell. Prop Ben Moon starts ahead of Alec Hepburn while flanker Sam Underhill comes in for the injured Tom Curry. Zach Mercer misses out on the squad and Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi will also have to wait after being left out of the matchday group.
All Blacks remain in ominous form
New Zealand remain the outstanding team in international rugby although the All Blacks are not invincible. Steve Hansen's side were stunned by South Africa in Wellington after a 36-34 defeat in September. New Zealand have responded with four successive wins and a largely second-string team eased to a 69-31 win over Japan in Tokyo last weekend.
Sonny Bill Williams is given the nod to play at inside centre for the All Blacks. Jack Goodhue is picked alongside him at centre while Damian McKenzie starts at full-back. Hansen said he decided to go with McKenzie to take the pressure off fly-half Beauden Barrett and offer New Zealand two playmakers to make it tougher for England.
This is the first meeting between the teams for four years and New Zealand have predictably held the upper hand. The All Blacks have won the last five games against England and beaten them in 14 of the last 15 clashes. England's only victory during this run came in a memorable 38-21 win at Twickenham in 2012 under Stuart Lancaster.
England did not show enough last week to suggest they can topple the All Blacks and the world champions are [1.2] for a reason. But it may be tighter than some expect with the handicap mark pitched at 14 points. Five of England's last six defeats to New Zealand have been by no more than ten points so a narrow away victory looks the value bet.
Since coming into the All Blacks side two years ago against Italy, winger Rieko Ioane has been a prolific finisher. The 21-year-old just cannot stop scoring with a brilliant record of 22 tries in 21 Tests. His recent form is even better having scored six tries in his last four games for New Zealand. Ioane will be relishing his first match against England and is worth backing, even at short odds, to continue his scoring streak.
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P/L 2018-19 season