England v Australia – Rugby World Cup Preview

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 England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday in their Rugby World Cup Pool A matchup. Following last weekends defeat to Wales, England know that anything other than a victory over Australia will likely see them exit the tournament at the group stage, becoming the first ever host nation not to reach the Quarter Finals of the tournament.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has recalled Jonathan Joseph for Saturday’s match, with the centre having recovered from injury which kept him out of the defeat to Wales. Rugby League convert Sam Burgess makes way for Joseph, dropping to the bench. Ben Youngs retains the scrum-half jersey, recovering from a knock that forced him off in the Wales game. Ben Morgan replaces Billy Vunipola at No 8, with Vunipola now set to sit out the remainder of the tournament with a hamstring issue. Owen Farrell retains the pivotal fly-half position after an impressive kicking performance against Wales. Lancaster and his side realise the importance of Saturday’s match with it now being described as England’s World Cup final. A strong first half performance against the Welsh last Saturday gives England hope but the way that they floundered, allowing Wales to take control of the match in the second half, is a massive cause for concern. On recent form, Australia are one of the best sides in the world and they would love nothing more than ending England’s progress in the tournament.

Australian coach Michael Cheika has named his strongest side for Saturday’s showdown, with the majority of the side having featured in Australia’s recent Rugby Championship winning run. One player who Australia have welcomed back is David Pocock following over two years out with a serious knee injury that involved two full knee reconstructions. Pocock has returned back to his best despite playing at No 8 allowing Michael Cooper to retain the number 7 jersey. Working in tandem the pair are lethal at the breakdown and England will do well to stop their influence on the match. This will be Australia’s first real challenge of the tournament having opened with victories over Fiji and Uruguay. You can be assured that coach Cheika will have his side primed for action however, with his impressive coaching career having included winning both the Heineken Cup and a Super Rugby title as a coach.

England have won four out of the last five matches between the sides, including the last two matches at Twickenham. However, out of the last eight matches between the sides at Twickenham it is fours wins a piece – showing how closely matched the sides are.

England are the 1.83 (5/6) favourites for victory on Saturday night, with Australia 2.25 (5/4) and the draw 26 (25/1). The rugby union tip for the match is Australia to win at 2.25 (5/4).

By: Scott McGlynn