PREVIEW: England v Australia

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:50

NOVEMBER INTERNATIONAL SEASON: Eddie Jones has urged England to "physically dominate" Australia when the old rivals contest the Cook Cup at Twickenham on Saturday.

Recent Anglo-Australian fixtures have been portrayed as clashes between the power of England's pack and the skill of Australia's backs.

But Australia, bidding to end a run of four straight defeats by former Wallaby boss Jones's England, will be desperate to show their forwards are no pushover.

Meanwhile, Jones acknowledged that in centres Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani his native Australia have backs who can pack a punch while also boasting plenty of ball-playing talent.

Australia, who recently beat world champions New Zealand, come into Saturday's match on the back of an impressive 29-21 win over Wales in Cardiff last weekend.

Under Jones, England have emerged as serious challengers for the All Blacks' global title but he said that, on current form, Australia were the team to beat. 

"We're playing against the best team in the world team at the moment. They’ve beaten New Zealand and had two draws with South Africa, beaten Argentina and beaten quite an impressive Wales side at the weekend, so they're doing well."

Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup Final to England in Sydney, added: "We want to physically dominate them. Their backs are as big as their forwards and we've got to get stuck into them early."

England launched their November campaign with an error-strewn 21-8 win over Argentina at Twickenham last weekend.

First-choice goal-kicker Owen Farrell rested from the Pumas match, returns at inside centre while fellow British and Irish Lion Maro Itoje is on the bench.

With Mike Brown ruled out following the concussion he suffered against Argentina, Anthony Watson moves across to fullback, with Jonny May taking his place on the right wing.

Joe Launchbury has been recalled after Jones dropped lock George Kruis in a pack featuring captain Dylan Hartley at hooker.

"We need someone to match [Adam] Coleman who has been quite dominant for them and Joe has got that job," said Jones.

Jones has yet to lose a home Test as England coach, with the lone defeat in his 21-Test Red Rose record coming against Ireland in Dublin in March.  

"We've put some foundations down, what we want to do is build on those foundations now," said Jones, who had made no secret that his ultimate goal with England is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan. 

"It seems like since we had an 'ordinary' game against Argentina, the whole place has exploded and I don't think it's like that."

He was equally curt when told Australia coach Michael Cheika, his former teammate at Sydney club Randwick, had accused England of deliberately late-tackling the Wallaby halfbacks.

"I don't have a response," said Jones.

"We play the game legally," he insisted.

Cheika said the fact Itoje was on the bench demonstrated England's strength in depth.

"Those things don't surprise me because there is so much talent over here," explained Cheika. "They could probably field two teams and do pretty well.

"Obviously they are a big side, strong, they are a very powerful side, they will try to bully us around."

As for once again going up against Jones, Cheika indicated the novelty was wearing off.

"We get the same questions every time," he said. 

"There will be a few more encounters I hope." 

Australia are seeking a first win over England since Cheika's men knocked them out of the pool phase of the 2015 World Cup with a 33-13 win at Twickenham - a result that led to Jones' appointment after Stuart Lancaster was sacked.

Cheika named an unchanged XV on Thursday led by flanker Michael Hooper despite a thumb injury Coleman suffered against Wales.

"We would not pick him if we did not think he could do his job," said Cheika of Coleman.

"He is a tough lad."

Players to watch:

For England: Owen Farrell returns to the midfield and he adds a lot of quality to the England backline. His midfield partner Jonathan Joseph always seems to be at his best when he is playing outside Farrell. Flank Sam Underhill was impressive against the Pumas, while Maro Itoje is a big name on the bench.

For Australia: Kurtley Beale has been outstanding this year and he will be a threat out wide. Centres Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi are imposing figures in the midfield. while scrumhalf Will Genia is a general when controlling play. In the pack, captain Michael Hooper is a workhorse for his team.

Head to head: The Wallabies have plenty of big bodies in the backline and it will be interesting to see how the likes of Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph handle the physicality of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani in the midfield. The set piece will also be a focus area again, particularly in the scrums where Scott Sio will come up against Dan Cole.

Recent results:
2016: England won 37-21, London
2016: England won 44-40, Sydney
2016: England won 23-7, Melbourne
2016: England won 39-28, Brisbane
2015: Australia won 33-13, London (World Cup pool match)
2014: England won 26-17, London
2013: England won 20-13, London
2012: Australia won 20-14, London
2010: England won 35-18, London
2010: England won 21-20, Sydney

Prediction: England have made Twickenham into a fortress in the last two years and they also won their last four matches against the Wallabies. But that will change on Saturday. The Wallabies have improved with each game this year and they look a lot smarter and dangerous in open play. The Wallabies will win by seven points. 

Teams:

England: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Mako Vunipola. 
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Danny Care, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Karmichael Hunt

Date: Saturday, November 18
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT; 02.00 AEDT, Sunday, November 19)
Expected weather: It will be partly cloudy with a couple of afternoon showers. There will be a high of 9°C and a low of 4°C.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), George Clancy (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Agence France-Presse & @rugby365com