Wallabies determined to learn England lessons
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Australia will look to put the lessons of four successive defeats by England to good use when they meet their old rivals in Saturday's clash at Twickenham.
England has a perfect played four, won four record against the Wallabies under Australian coach Eddie Jones, including a 3-0 series win Down Under last year. Their most recent meeting saw England triumph 37-21 at Twickenham in December.
"It [Twickenham] is a hard place to win. You have to be able to build pressure and we were not able to get scoreboard pressure last year. We had a lot of the ball early but weren't able to get points and that stung us.
"We know there were some really big moments in all four games and we have to be on the right side of them," Australia captain Michael Hooper said.
The last time Australia beat England was when they knocked the hosts out of the 2015 World Cup with a 33-13 pool phase victory at Twickenham, however, the Wallabies are now the form team in world rugby.
They head into Saturday's Cook Cup tussle unbeaten in seven games and on a run of four wins in a row, including a victory over world champions New Zealand, after last weekend's 29-21 defeat of Wales.
Long admired for their ball-playing skill, Australia is now also winning plaudits for their power game.
"We've shown through winning games in different ways that you are starting to see a harder edge... We're liking where we're progressing," Hooper added.
Australia will, however, want to avoid the kind of high penalty count against them they suffered in Cardiff. Although it did not cost them a 13th successive victory over Wales, they were reduced to 14 men when Hooper was shown a yellow card.
"A lot of those penalties were around the ruck. Everything happens so quick and when you do get it wrong, like at the back end of that game, you get a bit frantic. I didn't help by leaving 14 men on the field," he stated.
The build-up to Saturday's match has been dominated by accusations from Australia coach Michael Cheika that a "bullying" England deliberately late-tackle the Wallaby halfbacks.
"I know it's something the halves have been working on. You've got to be careful with doing it, you can give away a penalty. It's certainly a tactic to try to slow our ball down," Hooper said.
Hooper, however, insisted this was a common ploy throughout Test rugby union.
"It's just a tactic that you see not only England do, but a lot of other teams around the world," he mentioned.
As for how Australia would respond to being "roughed up", Hooper said: "Stick to our game. At the end of the day, you've got to get the ball over the sticks or on the try-line."
Meanwhile, Hooper stressed it was important that Australia did not get carried away by any preconceived notions of a home game plan as devised by Jones, the Wallabies' boss when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney.
"You don't know what they [England] are going to bring out. There might be all this talk they are going to rough you up and they stand back," he said.