Day 39 at the Rugby World Cup: England deliver and now wait for Wales or South Africa
Woodward hails a complete performance as Eddie Jones’ men book their place in the final
It was a memorable day in Yokohama as England upset the odds to reach their first World Cup final for 12 years.
Rugby round up Newsletter
Here PA looks back at the 19-7 win for Eddie Jones’ men and ahead to the second semi-final as Wales seek to make the final a domestic affair.
England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward hailed it as a complete performance as the team of 2019 moved to within 80 minutes of emulating the feat.
From the moment centre Manu Tuilagi crossed for a try after 97 seconds, Eddie Jones’ men were in total control as they condemned back-to-back defending champions New Zealand to a 19-7 defeat in Yokohama.
Captain Owen Farrell converted the try and fly-half George Ford kicked the first of four penalties to give his side a 10-0 interval lead.
An English line-out aberration close to their own line gifted the All Blacks a soft try through Ardie Savea in the 57th-minute try and Richie Mo’unga added the conversion but it was not enough to to derail Jones’ men.
“That was totally complete,” Woodward. “They strangled the All Blacks to death, not just the first two minutes, but the whole game.
“The physicality, from one to 15, was fantastic. It was huge and totally deserved. They absolutely smashed them.”
England now await the winners of the second semi-final on Sunday between Wales and South Africa at Yokohama International Stadium.
Wales have beaten the Springboks in five of the their last six meetings, including four successive victories, but George North admits he would struggle to find the right words if his side reach their first World Cup final.
“I don’t think my vocabulary is good enough to describe that,” said North, whose Test career began as an 18-year-old against the Springboks in 2010, when he marked his Wales debut by scoring two tries.
“Obviously, 2011 was incredible, 2015 we were one step off where we are now and, from our point of view, the boys are just raring to go.
“We know the challenges facing us, we know how well South Africa are playing and the impact they’ve had, and I think it will be massive.
“From our point of view, we are chuffed to be here, thrilled to be one of the last four standing.
“In 2011 we went into it as a bit of an unknown and got there by sheer determination and belief.”
Springboks preparing for wet-weather rugby
Rain is expected for the showdown and the Springboks have named a six-two split of forwards and backs on the bench but fly-half Handre Pollard insists they are ready for all types of conditions.
“We don’t select our team based on the weather, but going with the six-two split certainly helps when it’s wet,” said Pollard, who win win his 47th cap.
“It’s going to be a big set-piece battle and gain-line battle, whether it’s dry or wet. We have prepared for that.
“Whatever comes our way, we’ll handle it. Our game plan suits dry and wet weather pretty well, so there won’t be any major adjustments because of the weather.”
Trailing 10-0 at the break, it was the first time the All Blacks had failed to score in the first half of a World Cup match since they lost their 1991 semi-final to Australia.