New Zealand challenges England to open game

Associated Press

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has goaded England into trying to take on the All Blacks at their own fast-paced game when they meet in the third test in Hamilton on Saturday.

England's focus in the series has been on trying to match New Zealand's pace and intensity without sacrificing skill and structure, but when they tried to up the tempo in last weekend's second test, the All Blacks scored three tries in 23 minutes to win 28-27 and clinch the three-match series.

England has fully tested New Zealand in both of the first two tests and soundly beat Super Rugby team Crusaders in a mid-week match, but faces a winless test series that can only be judged as a failure.

"The series will be judged ultimately by the score line," England coach Stuart Lancaster said. "We desperately want that win and that's why we need to put in a high quality performance.

"We don't see this third game as any sort of dead rubber whatsoever. It's a hugely important game for us and New Zealand," he added. "They want to build momentum heading into the Rugby Championship and we want to finish the season strongly. It would be huge to beat the All Blacks away."

Hansen's challenge to England, to match New Zealand's expansive game, is a calculated piece of gamesmanship and a measure of the All Blacks' confidence that they can outplay any team in an open-field contest.

England have talked for many years about playing a more expansive style, but Lancaster is the first coach to have made discernible progress toward that end.

But such a style of game is at odds with what the England players have grown up with, and when under pressure they often revert to a more conservative approach.

"They are in a bit of a quandary really because they took us on in Dunedin at playing a game at real pace and worked out they couldn't," Hansen said. "So what are they going to do now?

"I have heard Stu (Lancaster) say in the paper that they shouldn't play too much rugby down their end. So are they going to kick it a wee bit more? They will have a good plan because they are good coaches."

England was forced to make a late change to its lineup Friday when lock Geoff Parling was ruled out of the match with a hamstring strain. Joe Launchbury will take Parling's place in the starting side and Dave Attwood has been added to the bench.

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Teams:

New Zealand: Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock.

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty.

England: Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond, Marland Yarde, Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw (captain), Tom Wood, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, David Wilson, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler.

Reserves: Rob Webber, Matt Mullan, Kieran Brookes, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Danny Cipriani, Luther Burrell

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