Fly-half George Ford led the way as England ended New Zealand’s eight-year reign as champions with a superb 19-7 World Cup semi-final win in Yokohama on Saturday.
Ford, restored at 10 by coach Eddie Jones, took over goal-kicking duties after England captain Owen Farrell took a knock but he landed four penalty attempts after Manu Tuilagi stunned the All Blacks with an early try.
This was just England’s eighth win in 42 Tests against New Zealand and meant the All Blacks had lost their first World Cup match since a shock 2007 quarter-final defeat by France.
England’s first World Cup win over the two-time defending champions puts them into their fourth final — just four years after their embarrassing first-round exit on home soil.
“Our best form of attack is our defence. We create opportunities through our defence to attack,” said England coach Eddie Jones, who has masterminded the turnaround.
“I’d like to pay the greatest compliment to New Zealand. They’ve won two World Cups in a row. They’ve been a really great team and and we had to dig really deep to beat them.”
England, world champions in 2003 when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones in the final, will now face the winners of Sunday’s match between South Africa and Wales in next week’s showpiece clash.
Their victory ended the tenure of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who is stepping down after overseeing a sensational run when they lost only 10 of 106 Tests.
“I’m really proud of our team. They’ve done a tremendous job for their country and tonight we just weren’t good enough,” said Hansen.
“So we have to take that on the chin and so does everybody back home and our fans.”
England led 10-0 at the break thanks to Tuilagi’s converted try and the first of Ford’s penalties after a superb forward effort led by locks Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje saw them dominate territory and possession.
Another Ford penalty early in the second half made it 13-0 but the All Blacks eventually broke a defence coached by former New Zealand boss John Mitchell in the 57th minute, when Ardie Savea crashed over for a converted try.
But Sam Underhill’s tackle on the recalled Scott Barrett led to a simple penalty in front of the posts that Ford duly kicked.
Jones had recalled Ford at fly-half following the 40-16 quarter-final win over Australia, moving Farrell to inside centre.
Before kick-off England, unusually, lined up in an inverted ‘V’ formation, crossing the half-way line as the All Blacks performed their traditional pre-match haka.
And there were fewer than two minutes on the clock when England scored a brilliant team try.
Fullback Elliot Daly made a fine break down the right that was carried on by wing Anthony Watson before the ball was worked across field, with hooker Jamie George charging forward.