England v New Zealand second Test preview

Football nets have been removed and goal posts installed as Anfield hosts game two of the three-Test series between England and New Zealand on Sunday.

The clash marks the first time England have played at the famous venue after missing the 2016 World Cup final with Wayne Bennett's men out to seal a series victory on home turf.

Both sides had their chances in a frantic finish in the first Test at KCOM Stadium but England held their nerve to defend themselves to victory in the opening fixture.

England have lost skipper Sean O'Loughlin to a calf injury for the second clash with a replacement skipper to be named on Thursday, while the Kiwis are hopeful Adam Blair looks set to play after withdrawing last week with a knee complaint but the team will not be finalised until an hour before kick-off.

For New Zealand, they'll need to bounce back after a two-point loss in Hull to force the series into a deciding game and prove their victory over the Kangaroos wasn't a one-off achievement.

Michael Maguire's era as Kiwis coach reads a 1-2 record in 2018 and the recently appointed Wests Tigers coach will be determined to have his side firing on the weekend.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for England is number 1 Jonny Lomax
    Fullback for New Zealand is number 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Winger for England is number 2 Thomas Makinson
    Winger for New Zealand is number 2 Ken Maumalo
  • Centre for England is number 3 Jake Connor
    Centre for New Zealand is number 3 Esan Marsters
  • Centre for England is number 4 Oliver Gildart
    Centre for New Zealand is number 4 Joseph Manu
  • Winger for England is number 5 Jermaine McGillvary
    Winger for New Zealand is number 5 Jordan Rapana
  • Five-Eighth for England is number 6 George Williams
    Five-Eighth for New Zealand is number 6 Shaun Johnson
  • Halfback for England is number 7 Sam Tomkins
    Halfback for New Zealand is number 7 Kodi Nikorima

Forwards

  • Prop for England is number 15 Thomas Burgess
    Prop for New Zealand is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
  • Hooker for England is number 9 Josh Hodgson
    Hooker for New Zealand is number 9 Brandon Smith
  • Prop for England is number 10 James Graham
    Prop for New Zealand is number 10 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  • 2nd Row for England is number 11 John Bateman
    2nd Row for New Zealand is number 11 Kevin Proctor
  • 2nd Row for England is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for New Zealand is number 12 Isaac Liu
  • Lock for England is number 13 Luke Thompson
    Lock for New Zealand is number 13 Adam Blair

Interchange

  • Interchange for England is number 8 Chris Hill
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 14 Kenneath Bromwich
  • Interchange for England is number 14 Adam Milner
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 15 Leeson Ah Mau
  • Interchange for England is number 16 George Burgess
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 16 Martin Taupau
  • Interchange for England is number 17 Daryl Clark
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 17 James Fisher-Harris

Key match-up

Oliver Gildart v Joseph Manu

Gildart got the better of Manu in the opening game with the Roosters centre having a quiet outing as he was well contained by the England defence with just 75 running metres. The right edge of Manu and Jordan Rapana is the Kiwis' strongest if they can find more space and be given early ball in similar fashion to their victory over the Kangaroos a fortnight earlier.

For England to win

The pack proved they're capable of matching the Kiwis up front so halves George Williams and Sam Tomkins will need to create more in attack particularly with New Zealand's expected bounce-back factor. Josh Hodgson did a lot of work at first receiver and finished off some final plays in a usual roaming role but they overall could get better. The trio will need to step up another gear with slicker finishing for England to clinch the series.

For the Kiwis to win

They'll need to fix their discipline after a lop-sided second-half penalty count in crucial stages of last week's loss with the game on the line. Kiwis skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak conceded the side became frustrated at the officiating and let it become a distraction during the game. England's defensive line proved vulnerable on the two occasions the Kiwis crossed the line and Michael Maguire's men should find confidence of exposing England despite defeat last week.

England Stat Attack

England calculated a play-the-ball speed average of almost half a second slower (3.89 seconds) compared to the Kiwis last weekend, indicating a slower ruck speed across the board. James Graham (4.59 seconds) and George Burgess (5.09 seconds) were well above the side's average, while Luke Thompson (3.42 second average) recorded the quickest of the big men.

Kiwis Stat Attack

New Zealand motored forward with an average of 53.6 metres per set last week compared to England's 34.6 figure. They tallied an extra 13 tackle breaks and 350 running metres but struggled with their fifth-tackle options and basic error count to enable England's advantage late in the game.

And another thing

The Kiwis have not lost three consecutive Tests against a British side since 2007.