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All Blacks seek redemption against England

A win over New Zealand comes along as rarely as a missed tackle by Richie McCaw.

Two victories in a row over the world's most dominant team? Surely no chance. Yet, that's what England is aiming to achieve on Saturday in the most eagerly anticipated match of the autumn rugby series.

The All Blacks have been forced to wait almost 12 months for a chance to avenge their 38-21 loss to the English at Twickenham last December — their only defeat since August 2011 and their only slip-up since Steve Hansen took charge after the country's World Cup win that year.

"We are playing against the best team in the world, probably the most successful team in world sport," England coach Stuart Lancaster said. "They will have huge motivation to beat us after last year but you have to believe you can win going into any game and this one is no exception."

The scarcely believable scenes from last year's match already armed the All Blacks with plenty of motivation, but they have something else to stick up on the blackboard before the game. When asked this week if New Zealand's pack was there for the taking, England forwards coach Graham Rowntree said "Yes, we believe so."

Confident words from a coach whose team has blown hot and cold so far this autumn, using a strong second half to come from behind to beat Australia 20-13 and then a brilliant first-half performance to set up a 31-12 win over Argentina on Saturday.

The other two lots of 40 minutes were distinctly average, and a New Zealand team in form would have put England out of sight in both games. The All Blacks have won all of their matches in 2013 to strengthen their No. 1 ranking, and painful memories of last year will be driving them on.

According to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, one message on the team whiteboard at New Zealand's hotel in London read: "We are playing England — this is about history, about human nature." Another said: "We are the most dominant team in the history of the world."

"I don't want to use revenge," Hansen said, "revenge is a hurtful word, and rugby is a beautiful game. "We were completely outplayed by them last year but this is an opportunity for us to see if we have improved our game to the point where we can be competitive ... we know the England coaching staff have done a lot of homework so this may be a game where we add a few new things they haven't seen before."

New Zealand has lost just one of its last 33 games and last lost twice in a row to the same opponent back in 2009, against South Africa. The tourists will have a massive advantage in experience. Flyhalf Dan Carter was selected Thursday to make his 100th test appearance and joins three other centurions — McCaw, hooker Keven Mealamu and prop Tony Woodcock — in a lineup containing a total of 959 caps.

The All Blacks' starting XV featured one change from the lineup which beat France 26-19 in Paris last weekend, with Julian Savea replacing Cory Jane on the left wing. Lock Luke Romano takes the place of flanker Sam Cane on the bench.

England also made one change, bringing back Dan Cole to the front row in place of David Wilson. Fellow prop Matt Mullan was named among the replacements as Alex Corbisiero and Mako Vunipola are injured, while scrumhalf Ben Youngs is back on the bench in place of Danny Care.

There are still major misgivings about England's midfield, with Joel Tomkins and Billy Twelvetrees given another opportunity to impress after stuttering against Australia and Argentina. The first-choice center pairing of Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi were in rampaging form against the All Blacks 12 months ago but are out injured and have been sorely missed.

That's an area New Zealand is sure to attack as the world's best side goes in search of redemption.


England: Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Foden, Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw (captain), Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler. Reserves: Tom Youngs, Matt Mullan, David Wilson, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Alex Goode.

New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Luke Romano, Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty.

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