England produced a sensational performance to down New Zealand 19-7 and book their place in the World Cup final.
Manu Tuilagi went over inside two minutes, and England never looked back on their way to ending the All Blacks’ reign after eight years as champions.
Even when Ardie Savea crossed on 57 minutes to get New Zealand back into it, England were able to respond and push them back out of range through the boot of George Ford.
They had made their intent clear even before kick-off, taking the challenge to the All Blacks with an inverted arrow during the haka.
A statement like that only works if you can back it up, and England more than did that.
As they had done last year when the teams met at Twickenham, England found a way through immediately. That day it was Chris Ashton, this time Tuilagi.
It all stemmed from an Elliot Daly break, the full-back getting outside Richie Mo’unga on a set-move from a lineout. He in turn fed Anthony Watson, as England poured down the right. New Zealand scrambled well to stop them, but after shifting the ball left, Eddie Jones’ side came back and from a ruck a metre out, Tuilagi picked and dived over. Owen Farrell added the simple conversion.
England were absolutely flying, Ford ripping a ball out of the hands of Nepo Laulala a minute later during New Zealand’s first period of possession.
They were relentless. Jack Goodhue had to be alert to wriggle out of a couple of tackles from a Daly grubber before Jonny May looked to be in. Tuilagi picked off a pass from Beauden Barrett in midfield and the ball was quickly spread to the wing. From there it seemed an easy run-in, but Scott Barrett showed remarkable pace to force May back inside and the chance went begging.
The pace of the game was frenetic, England almost in for their second on 24 minutes when Sam Underhill cantered over, only for it to be called back for an obstruction by his back-row partner Tom Curry.
New Zealand posed some threat of their own, a limping Farrell doing well to bring down Goodhue as they countered down the left.
Still, England finished the half the stronger, Ford missing one drop-goal attempt before slotting a penalty from 45 metres to make it 10-0 to the Red Rose.
The second half was a continuation of the first, England on the front foot and stretching their lead. After Ford had pushed one long-range penalty wide, he made amends on 48 minutes from in front after a Sam Cane tackle off the ball.
Between those two attempts England had seen a second try chalked off. Ben Youngs dummied over off the back of a maul, only for a knock-on in the build-up to deny him.
New Zealand had barely fired a shot, but they finally got on the board just before the hour. Sevu Reece had been bundled into touch in the corner as England’s defence continued to find every answer. But their lineout faltered, Jamie George overthrowing Maro Itoje and Savea gratefully accepting with the line at his mercy.
Remarkably it was back to being a one-score game, but England got straight back on the attack. Underhill, who had just put in a thumping hit on Kieran Read, produced another on Jordie Barrett to force a knock-on. That set up field position, and when New Zealand strayed offside, Ford punished them to make it 16-7.
He was on target again from the left after a penalty at a rolling maul, and even as New Zealand threatened again through Dane Coles down the right, replacement Mark Wilson got over the ball to win the crucial penalty.
That effectively ended New Zealand’s challenge as England march on to next Saturday’s final.
They will be back in Yokohama, and on this form, they will take some stopping.