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'England will struggle to match intensity of semi-final' - Gregor Paul

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

01:59 30 Oct 2019

England will struggle to replicate the intensity of their incredible semi-final victory over New Zealand in the final, according to New Zealand Herald journalist Gregor Paul.

Paul was on Wednesday's OTB AM to discuss the fallout after New Zealand's disappointing tournament and said that despite England's "perfect" semi-final performance they may falter as favourites in the final.

"I think you'd have to believe they are going to struggle to get up to that level of intensity again," Paul told Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan.

"It was a performance that reminded me a lot of the way that Ireland played in November against the All Blacks when they were just about perfect that day.

"Where they got themselves up to the level they wanted to play and they managed to play that way for 80 minutes."

While prefacing that England were good value for their semi-final win, Paul said that on the day everything went England's way, something they can't expect to happen again: "I've never seen a game like that where every single loose ball ended up falling into English hands.

"I think they are going to find it quite difficult to replicate that perfect performance against South Africa just because it is very difficult to do that two weeks in a row."

In addition, Paul highlighted the unavoidable pressure of being favourites that could cause England psychological problems in the build-up to the game.

"I think they are going to be a wee bit nervous as well because I think they realise now they owe themselves a second performance having done what everyone said was the hardest thing: beating the All Blacks.

"Now they are in a final, and they are favourites to win the final, I think they might be a wee bit nervous and I think they are going to struggle a little bit more than they realise.

"South Africa have come through a very different route so we will see," Paul concluded.

The World Cup final between England and South Africa kicks off at 9am Irish time on Saturday morning.

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All Blacks England Rugby Gregor Paul Rugby World Cup Rugby World Cup Final South Africa

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