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England’s tactical superiority shows All Blacks’ rivals are closing the gap | Nick Evans


The precision of Eddie Jones’s side put New Zealand on the back foot, making them look defensively vulnerable and reliant on individual creativity

New Zealand are not a very good wet‑weather team so grinding out this victory, having got themselves in a hole against a spirited England side, will do wonders for their confidence. But there will also be a wariness about the All Blacks because England were tactically superior on the day and it can clearly be said that, with less than a year to go until the World Cup, their rivals are closing the gap.

Ireland will be a huge test on Saturday, at the end of a long season for New Zealand, and England have showed that the All Blacks’ rivals are working out where they can be pressurised. Sam Underhill had a fantastic game and he, along with Mark Wilson and Brad Shields, was able to slow New Zealand’s ball down and force them backwards. The All Blacks’ first thought is always to create but when they were pushed back Beauden Barrett had to kick off the back foot. England, on the other hand, were so much more precise, allowing Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell to kick on the front foot and that made a big difference.

Related: Eddie Jones is left five minutes short against All Blacks but time is on his side | Andy Bull

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