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8:26 AM ET
Tom HamiltonSenior Writer
- • Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018
YOKOHAMA — This was as conclusive a win over the All Blacks as you will ever see.
England shattered New Zealand’s aura and prevented them from barely firing a shot. The eventual 19-7 scoreline flattered the All Blacks. England were better in every area of the game as they put together their finest performance since 2003 to book a spot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.
At the full-time whistle, there were the exhausted hugs as adrenaline peaked and then subsided but England’s focus was relentless and unwavering, their application and intensity at a level seldom seen in the sport.
It was the highlight of the four-year long Eddie Jones era, a performance they’d long threatened but it has never clicked like it did on Saturday in Yokohama. England’s defence only coughed once, while their attack kept the All Blacks hemmed in their own half for much of the game.
Don’t expect them to get carried away, just yet. “[The win] gives us another week, mate,” Jones said afterwards. “We have another week and we’re looking forward to it. We’re going to have to play better next week, whoever we play against.”
After the biggest week of Jones’ England career, comes an even more important seven days. But for one evening, England put in the performance of a generation. Maro Itoje was named man of the match, but there could have been any number from England as their gameplan came together to end the All Blacks’ hopes of a third World Cup on the bounce.
Rugby England’s fast start
England have now scored tries in the opening five minutes in nine of their last 18 Tests, and against the All Blacks they exploded out of the traps. Jones has frequently referenced to his team how well New Zealand started the 2015 World Cup final, and his side wasted little time in getting on the front foot in Yo
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