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TOKYO (AP) — It’s the contest within the contest. A collision between two masses of muscle, the scrum will be pivotal in the Rugby World Cup semifinal between defending champion New Zealand and England, which prides itself on being dominant at the set piece.
England has never beaten New Zealand at the World Cup, and has had just on win in the last 16 head-to-head meetings — in 2012.
For England to break that streak, it will need its eight forwards — a combined 920 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of manpower — to get on top in the scrum.
“Both teams are really going to climb into each other at set-piece time,” New Zealand’s assistant coach Ian Foster said on the eve of Saturday’s showdown at Yokohama. “It’s a tactical battle in itself. That’s where the war’s going to be won or lost.”
The All Blacks scrum has improved under the guidance of Mike Cron, and the addition of Scott Barrett on the blindside flank will make it the biggest pack practical to meet England head on. Head coach Steve Hansen said his forwards didn’t get enough credit for their set-piec
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