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NZ coach Laidlaw expects tight contest with England

Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Lynn McConnell     04 Feb 2018     Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

His side had contributed by winning all three games on day one and setting up a quarterfinal against England on day two.
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"It's amazing. The atmosphere has been unreal, the hotel's good, you look at the surface, I heard one of the teams thought it was astroturf so they've done a really good job. Every thing around the stadium for the teams has been as good as anyone on the circuit so it's really encouraging and great for our home tournament to be putting on such a show," he said.

Laidlaw said the day had been a mixed one for the New Zealand side. In the first two games, against France and Scotland they got on top and played reasonably well but he had been a little disappointed with some of the defending in the last game against Argentina.

"Playing really well on day one doesn't really mean anything for day two. We had a bit of rhythm in all games and we showed a way to win in that last game which is encouraging and we'll recover and head into tomorrow."

He was pleased with the way the side bounced back after their quarterfinal disappointment in Sydney last weekend but they had beaten England and Fiji to finish fifth and the players had recovered well from that. That was in comparison to some of the teams on show in Hamilton who had looked reasonably tired.

He was wary of England's threat in the quarterfinal. They had been involved in some close games this season and he was expecting a tight game with them first up.

The lesson from the tightness of the Argentina game was that New Zealand needed to get a lot of ball. Argentina had tied up the ball for long parts of the game.

"England are the same, if they can get ball they can hurt you but we feel we've got some options on attack that can hurt them, stress them. We know we can score against them. They are really good at kick-offs. [Tom] Mitchell puts it on the spot every time so that will probably be the winning and losing of the game against them," he said.

Laidlaw was thankful they hadn't been required to play Fiji on the first day after the battle they had in pool play in Sydney. It had been a different pool in Hamilton although they had expected it to be a little niggly as teams sought the advantage.

The team would aim to recover and prepare well in the morning for the England game, he said.