England vs Australia Sunday 2:00am at Twickenham Stadium, Londo
After disposing of Japan and Wales in consecutive weeks a trip to Twickenham to face the old enemy awaits Michael Hooper and his side in what is shaping up as a blockbuster pre-Ashes teaser.
For just the second time in his 3 year tenure as Wallabies Coach Michael Chieka has named an unchanged starting XV. The major news is the inclusion of Adam Coleman with the Wallabies enforcer under an injury cloud all week, he will combine with veteran Rob Simmons in the second row. Karmichael Hunt will again start off the bench with Cheika preferring to stick with the rampaging centre paring of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kurindrani.
Two crucial inclusion for the home side with World Rugby player of the year nominees Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje back in the 23 after both resting last week. Farrell will start at 12 partnering Jonathan Joseph in the centres with Henry Slade dropping out of the XV. Somewhat surprisingly, Eddie Jones has opted for a second row pairing of Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, with Maro Itoje to come off the pine. The other news is England fullback and all-round flog Mike Brown will be on the sidelines after suffering from concussion issues following the narrow win over Argentina, Anthony Watson will line up in his place, with Jonny May and Elliot Daly rounding out the back three.
Last time they met
3rd December 2016 – England 37 – 21 Australia
Stats that matters
– England have certainly had the wood on the Wallabies over the last 12 months or so beating the men in gold on their last 4 encounters by an average margin of almost 12 points. – The Red Rose remain unbeaten at home under Eddie Jones, winning each of their last 12 games at the home of Rugby. Their last loss at the venue, was a certain Rugby World Cup pool game when a resounding Wallabies victory sent England packing out of their own tournament – how unfortunate…
Owen Farrell vs Samu Kerevi
So many intriguing match ups to keep an eye on in this one. TPN vs Hartley, Coleman vs Lawes, Genia vs Youngs but the one that has the Wolf most excited is the battle at inside centre between Samu Kerevi and Owen Farrell. Two very different playing styles, Farrell – the second playmaker, has taken his game to another level in 2017. He was outstanding on tour with the Lions with his brave defence and flawless goal kicking playing a big role in the northerners coming away with a drawn series. Samu Kerevi is an exciting prospect for Australian Rugby, still just 24, the big bustling centre has the potential to tear a game open with his strong carries and smart offloading game. Question marks around his defence remain, and if he wants to become a regular starter in this Wallabies side for years to come he needs to answer the critics with a complete performance on Sunday Morning (AEDT).
England vs Australia is always going to be a much anticipated game regardless of what’s on the line. Perhaps the thing that makes this edition that little but more meaningful is the outstanding form of both sides leading into this clash. Just two years out from the World Cup and it seems like week by week both Australia and England are closing the gap between them and the All Blacks. The Wallabies are unbeaten in their last 7 victories. Whilst they lacked a bit of polish last week they were always going to be too god for an understrength Wales side. England on the other hand have won the last 2 Six Nations championships and have lost just the one game since the 2015 World Cup – to an impressive Ireland side in Dublin earlier this year. They looked rusty in their first proper hit out in 6 months last week against Argentina, but with a number of big names returning this week The Wolf is expecting a vast improvement.
How it’s shaping
The marquee match of the Wallabies Spring tour and its set to be an absolute beauty. England have built an extraordinary amount of depth from 1 through to 15 under Eddie Jones and consequently they perhaps boast the most well rounded team in International Rugby. Their tight 5 is immense and it is going to take a big effort from the Wallabies up front to gain parity at set piece and line out time. The thing the Australians do have in their favour however is an inform, settled line up that is really starting to click. The Wolf believes that a Wallabies victory in London is a distinct possibility and will stem from huge games from their X-factor players such Sean McMahon, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale. Unfortunately he is of the belief that England will be too powerful for the Aussies and will scrape home in a classic.
England by 4
Best Bet: Australia +7.5 ($1.90) Value bet: England 1-12 ($2.65)