All About the All Blacks

  • By: Reece Killworth
  • Last Updated: November 29 2012, 17:06 GMT

New Zealand should be comfortable winners
New Zealand should be comfortable winners

2.75pts New Zealand (-14) at 10/11 (Sportingbet).

It's hard not to fear for England this weekend.

As close as they've come against Australia (six points) and South Africa (one point) in the last fortnight, the bare facts are they approach Saturday's game against the finest team on the planet on the back of two successive defeats.

Don't get me wrong, there have been positives to take and but for that Chris Robshaw decision in the final minutes against the Springboks last weekend, they could easily have secured a confidence-boosting victory.

But rather than spending the week basking in that, they've been caught up in fiercely defending their captain and rebuffing talk of rebellion in the ranks.

I've no doubt they'll have been completely focused on their work in training and the decision to replace the injured Toby Flood with Owen Farrell will have been one they'd have been preparing for from early in the week.

But with Farrell's form patchy of late as he is forced to share fly-half duties at Saracens with Charlie Hodgson, it'll need a big step up for the youngster.

Flood's absence certainly doesn't help on the experience front either, and the England starting XV have won fewer than a third of the caps their New Zealand counterparts boast going into Saturday afternoon's game.

There are world-class talents throughout this All Blacks side - and it's no surprise Farrell is 33/1 outsider of the four-man shortlist for the IRB Player of the Year award; frankly there are several New Zealanders who could have joined Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in his place and been a shorter price.

While England haven't won since that opening autumn international against Fiji (and that remains their only victory in their last six Test matches don't forget), the ABs juggernaut has rumbled on...and on...and on.

They've failed to win just once in their last 20 Tests (an 18-18 draw with Australia) and haven't triumphed by fewer than 23 points on their autumn tour.

Taking a more detailed view, their average winning margin over that period is an impressive 25.95 points while if you remove the three games they've won by in excess of 60 points (just in case they create a 'red herring' by unfairly skewing the figures) the margin is still a healthy 18.79 points.

The head-to-head doesn't make pretty reading for England either - they've lost each of the last nine between the sides by an average margin of 20 points.

With Richie McCaw playing his last match before a six-month sabbatical and Carter averaging 19.5 points in his last six games against England, there's good reason to believe the two talismen will inspire a comfortable victory.

It's rare handicaps in double figures appeal to me but I can't see past New Zealand -14 in this one.

  • Preview posted at 1700 GMT on 29/11/2012.