Brodie Retallick England v New Zealand – the key Rugby World Cup semi-final battles

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Brodie Retallick Billy Vunipola, George Ford, Owen Farrell, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga and Kieran Read

New Zealand have won 33 of their 41 Tests against England
Rugby World Cup semi-final: England v New Zealand
Venue:International Stadium, YokohamaDate:Saturday, 26 OctoberKick-off:09:00 BST
Coverage:Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

England head coach Eddie Jones says he has “identified a number of areas” where his team selection can pressure New Zealand in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final.

Meanwhile, All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen believes England’s failure to get out of the pool stages four years ago “brings its own pressure”.

But how do the two sides compare head-to-head? BBC Radio 5 Live analyst and ex-England fly-half Paul Grayson has assessed some of the key tactical match-ups.

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The scrum

I would see it as a really even contest in the set-piece.

The scrums will not win and lose the game, but the props in open play will have an influence on the outcome.

The battle of the props and the hookers is almost a question not of who can scrum well, but who also add around the pitch.

England props Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola are ball-handlers, while hooker Jamie George is a good runner. But you could say the same of the All Blacks front row.

I do not see a genuine advantage either way in the scrum but I do see that potentially England’s props might do more than New Zealand’s in the loose.

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The line-out

Picking Scott Barrett, a lock, at blind-side flanker is a huge call from Hansen – and a brilliant one potentially.

I did not even consider it but it is his tactical opener.

England lock Courtney Lawes has now got a massive job on his hands.

New Zealand have got four genuine line-out options: Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read.

England have got two options: Lawes and Maro Itoje – maybe two and a half because Tom Curry might be able to win a line-out.

England have picked a team to play

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