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Second Test: Australia v England Preview
England will be looking to wrap up their June Series this Saturday with a win against the Australians at AAMI Park.
This series always promised fireworks and we did get the predicted pyrotechnics display out in Brisbane last week. Having been ten points down with little over ten of the game gone, the English put in one of their finest displays ever coming back to win the game by a comfortable margin of 11 points.
There has been a lot of fuel added to this fiery rivalry with England head coach Eddie Jones’ proclaiming the Australian press have shown his charges and him little respect.
So will the jibes from the Australian sports media fire the English to another victory or will the hosts get their act together and level the series?
Australia v England | Saturday 18 June | AAMI Park | 12:00 (CAT)
To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 8/10 | Draw 20/1 | England 21/20
Australia (-1.5) 9/10 | England (+1.5) 9/10
Last Saturday was a rather dark day for Australian rugby. It wasn’t really the defeat but more so the manner in which they went down that will have annoyed the Australian rugby public. Having taken an early lead in the game, most rugby fans would have put their life savings on Australia continuing to assert their dominance. However, a brilliant kicking display from Owen Farrell and some poor scrummaging from Scott Sio and Greg Holmes condemned the Wallabies to defeat.
Head coach, Michael Cheika, has taken some drastic steps after the defeat axing both his props who were out scrummed by their opposite numbers last week. There are aslo some enforced changes to the run-on XV with Melbourne Rebels eight Sean McMahon coming in for the injured David Pocock and Sam Carter coming in for Rob Simons.
While Cheika has made a rift of changes to his pack, he’s decided to field the same starting backline as last week. I’m a bit surprised with this as I think Israel Folau offers a bit more than Samu Kerevei does in the centres. While Kervei did impress last week, one feels that Folau could expose the defensive frailties in England’s midfield.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie Jones’ still has a smirk on his face akin to that of a Cheshire cat. The England mentor once again proved just how masterful a tactician he is orchestrating England’s 11 point victory over their arch-rivals.
While Jones’ does deserve a lot of the plaudits for last week’s victory at the Suncorp Stadium, it would be rather harsh not to heap some praise on his charges. Saracens ten Owen Farrell had an absolute blinder slotting three conversions and six penalties while keeping the ball in front of his pack with some brilliant kicking out of hand.
Another man who really put his hand up last week was James Haskell. The Wasps' flanker was brilliant at the breakdown winning three turnovers but it was his efforts on defence that impressed most. He made 18 tackles and was an ever-present at ruck time.
England must be feeling rather confident after coming from ten points down to earn a 1-0 series lead. They are likely to take a similar approach into this one as they did in the first Test. They will look to Farrell to dictate the play with that pinpoint boot of his and then look to put a huge amount of pressure on the Wallaby’s exit plays.
Verdict: England 21/20
If Pocock was fit and available, my money would firmly be on the Australians. He’s not, however, and I reckon the English will capitalise on his absence.