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HomeSportRugby-England go again at Eden Park after narrow All Blacks loss

Rugby-England go again at Eden Park after narrow All Blacks loss

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(Reuters) - England will try to banish the thought that they have blown their best chance of registering a rare victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand when they take on the three-times world champions again in Auckland on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick's side came within a wayward Marcus Smith kick of ending a 21-year win drought last Saturday with a brilliant fighting effort in a Dunedin clash that went right down to the wire.

England will be well aware that tradition has it that the All Blacks are best caught cold at the start of the test season before they kick into their imposing stride.

Ireland, however, proved in 2022 that precedent is not always a great guide when they rebounded from a loss in their series opener to win the last two tests.

England skipper Jamie George and lock Maro Itoje also have memories of the 2017 British and Irish Lions series, where the tourists won the second test to level the series at 1-1 and forced a 15-15 draw at Eden Park in a breathless decider.

That, however, was one of only two draws that accompany 48 victories for the All Blacks at Eden Park in 50 tests since France stormed the home of New Zealand rugby in 1994 to clinch a first series win for a northern hemisphere team in the islands.

Borthwick, who was on the bench when England last beat the All Blacks in New Zealand in Wellington in 2003, said the record could also work against the home side.

“New Zealand has a formidable record at this venue, but with that comes the pressure of expectation,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see how New Zealand manages that expectation in front of a full house.”

England made only one injury-enforced change to the team that led 15-10 in the second half in Dunedin with Fin Baxter handed his first test start at loosehead prop in place of Joe Marler.

All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has also kept faith in his team, bringing only Finlay Christie into the starting side at scrumhalf for the injured TJ Perenara with the uncapped Cortez Ratima as halfback cover on the bench.

“We need ... a little bit more game plan execution,” Robertson said of the improvements he would like to see for his second match in charge.

“Everyone knows where the classroom is now. It's like the first week of school, you take a while to get your bearings, but we've got that now.”

Robertson will expect his pack to take a step up in physicality in front of a sell-out crowd and lay the platform for the backs to show more of their skills.

Chief among the backline talent that All Blacks supporters will be hoping to see fire is livewire flyhalf Damian McKenzie, one of the standout players in the Super Rugby Pacific season.

McKenzie's kicking ultimately gave New Zealand the win in Dunedin despite the playmaker being timed out with a late penalty that allowed England one last charge for a victory.

New Zealand Rugby have moved quickly to ensure there is no repeat and the shot clock will be displayed on the big screen at Eden Park on Saturday.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

Disclaimer: This report is auto generated from the Reuters news service. INDIANEXPOSE holds no responsibilty for its content.

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