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It is over. Out-played, out-coached and out-fought, the All Blacks tumbled out of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night in Yokohama with barely a whimper.
But hold your tears and quiet your jeers, New Zealand. Yes, your All Blacks chose this semifinal of the global tournament to play their only poor match of the event. Their worst since 2007’s quarterfinal elimination, actually. They were ill-disciplined, sloppy and beaten to the punch throughout almost the entirety of this captivating contest, won 19-7 by a richly deserving England.
This was a long, long way from the crisp, free-flowing rugby that the All Blacks unleash at their best. But the fact of the matter is they weren’t allowed to play it by an England side who owned the physical contests throughout and blunted their foes at every turn. And ended this run of 18 straight World Cup victories by the Kiwis as a result.
Credit where it’s due. This was a magnificent performance from Eddie Jones’ England, led by a masterclass from brilliant loose forward Sam Underhill and his hard-hitting second-row team-mate Maro Itoje. They were the world-class forwards on the park and they completely overshadowed anyone in black as they propelled their side into their first final since 2007.
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*England player ratings v ABs
*England’s stunning haka response
*How ABs rated in England loss
*UK media lap up England win
*RWC results and pool standings
England’s defence – orchestrated by former All Blacks coach John Mitchell – was suffocating and effective. It allowed barely an opportunity for the New Zealanders who played so, so much rugby behind the advantage line. New Zealand’s only try came from a defensive lineout error from the northerners and was so gift-wrapped it should have had a bow on it.
But the rest from England was on the money throughout. And crafty little Jones deserves his credit, too. He out-coached S
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