Preview: England v Australia
Fri, 16 Nov 2012 06:58
The Wallabies will feel that they have something to prove when they take on England in their Cook Cup clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
After slumping to a 33-6 defeat against France in Paris last week, the pressure is mounting on Robbie Deans' injury-hit squad and they face a confident England side who ran Fiji ragged.
Deans has been a divisive figure in Australian rugby ever since the New Zealander was appointed to coach the Wallabies four years ago.
And heading into Saturday's match, two Australia greats David Campese and Michael Lynagh are in deep disagreement about the former All Blacks fullback's merits.
Australia, renowned for running rugby, come into this match having gone nearly three hours without a try, a run that includes both a dramatic 18-18 draw with world champions New Zealand and last weekend's defeat in Paris.
Not only did Australia concede a penalty try to France from a scrum - something that won't have escaped the attention of England's forwards - they were also outplayed with ball in hand
For Campese, who scored 64 tries in 101 Tests, it was all too much.
"Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"Anyone who knows anything about Australian rugby, knows what it's famous for - loops, angles, switches, counter-attack, creative play. Where's all that gone? We can't even pass properly."
Deans, who this year has awarded 14 new caps, used 41 players in 12 Tests and selected four different captains, responded by saying:"It's great that David's passionate about the game still and particularly the Wallaby jersey.
"But I really don't want to comment any further. It's not about me, it's about the team and helping them do what they do.
"France was a performance we weren't proud of and we want to address it."
Lynagh, who starred alongside Campese in the Australia team that beat England in the 1991 World Cup Final at Twickenham, was in a more forgiving mood. highlighting the loss through injury of several key players including outstanding openside David Pocock.
"We do miss Pocock, Will Genia and James Horwill because they are all Wallaby captains and you need that kind of experience at Test level," Lynagh told the London Evening Standard.
"It would be great to have a few other attacking weapons around to take the heat off (flyhalf) Kurtley Beale. I do believe Deans is a good coach and he hasn't turned into a bad one overnight."
Digby Ioane's return could give Australia an extra cutting edge this weekend, with the wing one of four changes made by Deans.
Ioane will be up against against a powerful wing in Chris Ashton, whose return from suspension is the only change to the England side that beat Fiji 54-12 at Twickenham last week, where sloppy errors stronger sides will punish were offset by seven tries and full-back Alex Goode's growing assurance as an auxiliary playmaker.
Two years ago Ashton scored one of the great Twickenham tries when he ran nearly the length of the field in a 35-18 victory over Australia.
"We're looking for a bit of what Chris Ashton delivers in matches," explained Lancaster. "He chases the ball, creates line breaks, makes opportunities for others and takes them himself."
But it's nine appearances since Ashton scored the last of his 15 Test tries and he admitted: "It's killing me not scoring for England."
Victory for England on Saturday would be a huge boost to the 2015 World Cup hosts chances of acquiring a top four ranking that will give them a leading seeding at next month's pool draw for the global showpiece.
"We will need to step up (against Australia) and our training this week has reflected that," said Lancaster.
Players to watch:
For England: The explosive Manu Tuilagi is always good to watch at outside centre, but the backline will rely on busy scrumhalf Danny Care to get good quality ball. Up front experienced tighthead prop Dan Cole will anchor the England pack in order to give players like Thomas Waldrom the platform to impose themselves.
For Australia: Kurtley Beale has taken to his new role as flyhalf quite well but has perhaps lacked enough support on his outside, so he will relish linking up with the returning Digby Ioane who makes more line-breaks than anyone else in the team. Nathan Sharpe may be within sight of the end of his career, but he needs to produce a big preformance to inspire something in his team, one player who will give everything is Michael Hooper who will be desperate to show that Pocock's absence is not such a huge blow.
Head to head: Ioane will be squaring up against Charlie Sharples, who scored two good tries against Fiji last week, but he will no doubt clash at some stage with Chris Ashton as both players look for work off their wings. Waldrom and Wycliff Palu are both big units at the back of the scrum, and their ability to get over the gainline consistently will be determined by the battle in the tight exchanges. Benn Robinson's duel with Dan Cole should be intense while Ben Alexander will want to use his experience to get the better of Joe Marler.
2010: England won 35-18 in London
2010: England won 21-20 in Sydney
2010: Australia won 27-17 in Perth
2009: Australia won 18-9 in London
2008: Australia won 28-14 in London
Prediction: The Wallabies have the firepower to spring a surprise, and if they click then they will beat England, but there are simply too many factors counting against them so we are backing England to win at home by a few points.
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Charlie Sharples, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Mike Brown.
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Drew Mitchell.
Date: Saturday, November 17
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 01.30 Sunday, November 18 AEDST)
Expected weather: Overcast, high of 12 low of 8, slight north-westerly breeze
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
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