All Blacks out to avenge Black Caps’ Lord’s defeat against England
Cricket World Cup final ended in a tie but Saturday’s RWC semi less likely to do so
Beauden and Scott Barrett train ahead of New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup semi-final with England. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty
After losing 15 of the last 16 meetings, as well as their sole World Cup meeting in the 1995 semi-final in Cape Town when Jonah Lomu trampled all over them, England have plenty of scores to settle with the All Blacks when they meet at the same juncture this Saturday.
But New Zealand have a sporting score to settle after the most dramatic Cricket World Cup final in history, and indeed any one-day match, last July at Lord’s.
Chasing a target of 241, England tied the game with an innings of 84 not out from Ben Stokes - although he would eclipse that innings with his astonishing knock of 135* to win the third Ashes Test against Australia in Headingley - and meant the final was decided by the first Super Over in ODI cricket.
Chasing the 15 runs posted by Stokes and Jos Buttler in their Super Over, Martin Guptill attempted to score the winning two runs off the last ball of New Zealand’s but was run out by Buttler, ensuring another tie. England won on the ‘boundary count back rule’, having scored 26 boundaries to New Zealand’s 17, thus becoming Cricket World Cup winners for the first time while denying the Black Caps their first World Cup.
Outside of defeats for the All Blacks at World Cups, now a fading memory, it’s doubtful New Zealand sport has ever suffered a more heart-breaking loss.
Draws are rare at Rugby World Cups. Only three times in the 32-year history of the tournament have teams finished level after 80 minutes in a knockout match, most famously in the finals of 1995 and 2003. There have been only three drawn games in the pool stages too.
For the remainder of this tournament, if teams are level at full-time, they will play 20 minutes of extra-time (ten minutes each way, with an interval of five minutes). If the scores are still level, ten minutes of ‘sudden death’ will follow. The first team to score any points during ‘sudden death’ will be declared the winner. If the teams still cannot be separated, a kicking competition, with five nominated kickers apiece, will determine the winners.
“It’s unlikely that it will be decided that way,” said Steve Hansen. “Have we prepared for that? We know those are the rules, so yes, you’d be foolish if you hadn’t prepared for it but I would be highly surprised if after 80 minutes then ten minutes each way, then sudden death extra time, by which time they’ll be bugger all people standing, that someone hasn’t scored some points but funnier things have happened, eh?”
“I don’t know if they got the cricket one right really,” he added.
Asked if he watched the cricket final and if it added to the All Blacks’ motivation this week, Sam Whitelock said: “Yes I did watch the cricket. I can’t say I thought about it this week until you brought it up then but it was a pretty amazing game to watch.
“Obviously we weren’t the happiest with the results, but I saw a few of the cricket boys afterwards and they were pretty excited about how close they got and they know that hopefully when New Zealand do get to win that Cricket World Cup that they’ve really set up the generations to follow them”
“It was quite humbling to talk to them afterwards, how their mindset was after a pretty close loss.”
If it came to it, Scott Barrett’s brothers Beauden and Jordan would most likely be two of five nominated kickers, if less so the lock. “Depending on injuries,” he reckoned was the only way he’d be chosen. “I’m sure there’d be a few backs first. We’d have to be quite short. Out of the forwards I’d definitely back myself, sure.”
With Brodie Retallick now back in harness alongside Whitelock for what is likely to be their 53rd Test together in the All Blacks’ starting team, Barrett is likely to be on the bench again, alongside Jordan, with Beauden again at fullback.
“Actually this week I am rooming with Beaudie for the first time since 2002 when he was actually on the top bunk at the Fern Cottage,” he said. “ So, it’s quite nice to have a key driver of our game to be rooming with and chat about stuff to prepare for this game.
“It will be the first semi-final and we’re considering it as a final to earn the right to have another week, so it’s a huge week.”