England’s 2003 World Cup winner Mike Tindall believes England’s semi-final win over New Zealand was their best performance in the history of the tournament.
Yorkshireman Tindall is confident Eddie Jones’s team will follow in their footsteps on Saturday if they can replicate that display, but warned it will be tough to repeat.
Manu Tuilagi’s try in the second minute – converted by captain Owen Farrell – and four penalties from George Ford helped them secure an impressive 19-7 success over the All Blacks in Yokohoma.
South Africa’s narrow victory over Wales in the other last four encounter on Sunday means standing in England’s way of a second World Cup win will be the Springboks, who finished third at the last edition and were triumphant at the 2007 and 1995 tournaments.
Tindall, who started the extra-time win over Australia in Sydney 16 years ago and captained his country, said: “I think it was the best England performance at a World Cup that has ever been. The boys were unbelievable.
“The pace, power and variation and the amount of players who had fully world-class games at the same time. It was a pleasure to watch.
“We have seen it in bits before, we saw how good England could be in the Ireland warm-up game, the Wales warm-up game and Ireland away in the Six Nations.”
“The challenge was to do it on the biggest of stages against the biggest opposition and my concern throughout the week was we had been quite conservative in this World Cup and done what we needed to do to win and win comfortably.
“Against New Zealand, I always thought we had to show a little bit more and have a go at them and take the game to them and after one minute and 37 seconds we had a cracking try which went 60 metres down the field, so it set the tone.
“I think anyone there and watching would have thought the scoreline flattered New Zealand a little bit because England were that good.”
Otley-born Tindall has warned, however, that being able to repeat such a performance in the final will be no easy task.
“The biggest thing now is getting fuel in the tank to make sure you can repeat what you did for this Saturday,” he added.
“If they play that way no-one can live with them, but it is a big ask. It is a different day, a one-off game and anything can happen, but, hopefully, we will get a performance like that again and the boys come home with the cup.”
Jones’s side had two tries ruled out, but still managed to hand New Zealand a first World Cup defeat in 12 years.
Tuilagi’s try occurred not long after Farrell and his team-mates had made the bold decision to stare down New Zealand’s Haka with a V shape.
“I talked to a guy called Ali Williams, who played for the All Blacks, and he liked it because the Haka is an arrow formation so they can stare at you, but if you have the nearest points quite wide, he was saying it would be hard for them because there would be nothing for them to look at,” explained Tindall.
All the focus turns to Saturday with England back in a World Cup final for the first time since 2007 where Brian Ashton’s side lost 15-6 to South Africa at Stade de France.
Tindall, capped 75 times, missed that tournament through injury, but is optimistic this team will go one better and lift the Webb Ellis Trophy in Japan.
He added: “I think they will do it. I have always said whoever wins that semi-final will go and do it so I am backing England all the way.”