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How England can end the All Blacks streak at Eden Park

It’s been 30 years since the All Blacks last lost a match at Eden Park, but England can still feel some level of confidence going into the game next week. 

If you isolate the rugby, which is what Steve Borthwick will try to do in the build-up, England can certainly feel disappointed with the one-point defeat yesterday because victory was within their grasp.

After weathering an early onslaught, Borthwick’s men took the lead with a Maro Itoje try and despite this lead lasting mere minutes they still went in level at the break. England also regained the lead in the second-half with a try from Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, before Damian McKenzie broke English hearts with his late penalty.

The game was certainly there for the taking, but they do need to fix up some areas of their game to do so. Here is an in-depth look at how England can overcome the All Blacks and end the streak at Eden Park.

How England can end the All Blacks streak at Eden Park

Scrum needs some more work

The Borthwick-era has been underpinned by a solid set-piece, but this summer the scrum has proved a major problem. It came undone in the early exchanges of the Japan test, and yesterday New Zealand targeted it and got plenty of change out of it.

In the scrum, Ethan de Groot certainly had the upper hand against Will Stuart, and later Ofa Tuʻungafasi had Dan Cole consistently on the back-foot too with some powerful shoves. Fin Baxter showed signs of his usual scrummaging prowess after his introduction, but was lacking the usual solidity next to him to really go for the jugular.

Dan Cole is a prop that likes to set the height early and hold his shape from there; however, both of the New Zealand looseheads are smaller in height but potentially stockier. This means they will get him into a more uncomfortable position, and therefore get the upper hand in this battle. Stuart is a more attacking prop than Cole, however, he too likes to set the height and then go from there.

Whilst this might seem like an old-school forwards coach screaming ‘GET LOWER’ from the side-lines, it might be up to Jamie George to set the height to give his front-row that ability to get comfortable and then let Baxter have a crack at his tighthead.

This will be a particular worry for England, as the scrum gives their new attack a decent platform to build off. It forces the opposition defence to retreat, which in turn creates an aspect of broken field to then exploit. England need to fix this up if they want to win next weekend.

Midfield combination

Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence are both brilliant players, however there does seem some form of disconnect between them, and also how they are being used. Both players play at 13 for their club sides, and both also play it differently to each other too. Slade is a silky ball-player who can bring those around him into the game, as he does with Feyi-Waboso at Exeter.

On the other hand, Lawrence is a blend of pure speed and power who has a keen eye for space. Whilst he is a very powerful runner, he isn’t quite the Tuilagi crash-ball 12, where he will smash through back-rowers for fun. He thrives in the wider channels where the pitch is slightly more broken and he can charge through holes.

Against France in the Six Nations, it seemed they found a good balance of swapping between the positions, but this summer have seemingly returned to these set roles within the team. They need to go back to that fluid partnership, which will probably add an even greater dynamic to this England attack.

Blitz defence still bedding in

A lot was made of the England blitz defence when Felix Jones came in, but it is still embedding itself in. This defensive system requires the players to be SUPER connected, but we are still only seeing Slade and Feyi-Waboso (who run this sort of system at Exeter) have that connection for a full game.

Tommy Freeman was often left high and dry at times in the opening test, and Ben Earl was also caught being too aggressive, which then created doglegs in the line.

This system does work, and England showed what it can do for them in parts against the All Blacks, but they need to stay fully connected throughout the game to keep the pressure on.

New Zealand vs England full details

Kick-off: 8:05am

Venue: Eden Park

How to watch on TV: The game will be aired on Sky Sports

READ NEXT: July internationals: Six standout players from opening tests

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