England look to heap woe on Wallabies
November 15, 2012
Will England heap woe on under-fire Australia boss Robbie Deans this weekend? © Getty Images
England and Australia will renew one of rugby's most mouth-watering rivalries when they go head-to-head at Twickenham on Saturday.
The two giants of the game have contested two World Cup finals and countless other thrilling clashes with their latest Cook Cup showdown set to provide another enthralling spectacle. England will be chasing their third straight victory over the Wallabies - a feat they have only achieved once before under former coach Sir Clive Woodward on a run that eventually ran to five victories.
Fresh from hammering Fiji, England will be full of confidence and favourites to heap woe on Australia and their under-fire coach Robbie Deans whose side slumped to a heavy defeat to France last weekend.
In addition to bragging rights and the sizeable Cook Cup trophy, there is also a fascinating IRB Rankings/World Cup pool draw subplot. England are looking to lay claim to a top four seeding that will be rewarded with a favourable pool draw next month while Australia are desperately trying to preserve their status among the sides that will be kept apart in the early stages of World Cup 2015.
England - Player to Watch: Alex Goode delivered a Man of the Match performance against Fiji last weekend and was a real threat throughout - can he build on that display and cement his understanding with fly-half Toby Flood?
England - Team News: Winger Chris Ashton returns from suspension in the only change to the side that swept Fiji aside 54-12 last weekend. As a result Gloucester's Charlie Sharples switches to the left wing with Quins' Ugo Monye making way.
Australia - Player to Watch: Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper has scored on two of this three previous visits to Twickenham so clearly has a liking for the place but he has failed to cross the whitewash in his previous 14 Tests - can he add to that tally on Saturday?
Australia - Team News: Australia have made four changes with fullback Berrick Barnes and winger Digby Ioane returning to the backline, in the places of Mike Harris and Pat McCabe, while second rower Sitaleki Timani and tight-head prop Ben Alexander also get the nod, taking over from Kane Douglas and Sekope Kepu respectively. After starting last weekend's heavy defeat against France, Harris and Kepu have been named among the replacements. Injury has once again played a hand in the selection, with McCabe (neck), Douglas (knee) and flanker David Pocock (calf strain) all ruled out of the equation due to fitness concerns.
Key Battle: Whenever these two sides meet the debate inevitably centres on the scrum battle and the set-piece will once again be centre of attention at HQ. Australia's Tatafu Polota-Nau has expressed his side's desire to 'dominate' their hosts while England's Dan Cole insists his pack will be looking to pulverise the Wallabies - let battle commence.
Trivia: Robbie Deans became the most-capped Wallabies coach last weekend when he sent his side into battle against France but the 33-6 hammering his side suffered at the hands of Les Bleus only served to underline his status as their most unsuccessful coach with The Australian reporting that his winning percentage has dropped to 57.4%.
Stats: England could climb to 3rd place in the IRB Rankings if they secure a big win over Australia and France lose to Argentina later in the day. The currently 3rd-placed Wallabies could slip out of the all-important top four if England and France were both to secure victories.
"Is he talking about Charlie Sharples with his bean head or Chris Ashton with his see-through skin? I can see what he means about Ugo Monye, to be fair. He is an attractive man."
"I just want him to go. He's the worst thing that has ever happened to Australian rugby."
Prediction: Expect a significant improvement from the Wallabies but England to hold them at bay and notch a narrow victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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