International Rugby: England v Australia Preview

It's another week of international rugby action, and the pick of the bunch sees world number two, England, host the third ranked Australia at the home of rugby on Saturday the 18th of November.

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England v Australia | Saturday 18 November | Twickenham | 16:30

To Win (80 Mins)
England 7/20 | Draw 22/1 | Australia 23/10
England -7.5 (9/10) |  Australia +7.5 (9/10)

It's another week of international rugby action, and the pick of the bunch sees world number two, England, host the third-ranked Australia at the home of rugby. Last week's 21-8 win against Argentina was far from convincing from Eddie Jones' Englishmen, who will need to lift their game immensely if they are to take down the red-hot Wallabies; undoubtedly the toughest Test team they will face this Autumn.


It is perhaps a measure of Jones' frustration at his side's scrappy win over Los Pumas, that British Lion's second-rower George Kruis has been dropped from the England squad. Naturally, Kruis wasn't solely to blame for the ugly performance - a host of first-choice players struggled to assert themselves too - but this good old fashion tactic by Jones (of excluding a well-respected senior players) may just deliver the wake-up call his team needs. Nobody is safe as long as Eddie Jones calls the shots.

The absence of World Rugby Player of the Year nominees Owen Farrell and Mario Itoje last week was obvious. England struggled to seriously dominate the collisions, while their tactical game was found wanting - these are both areas in which the aforementioned duo excel. They will doubtless be back this week, and their presence will serve to lift the energy-levels of those around them.

On the topic of selections, one has to wonder how much longer Jones will persist with Dylan Hartley as his first-choice hooker. Despite being the skipper of the side, Hartley's form at present is mediocre at best, and Jamie George's time must surely be soon. George is a vastly superior player at this stage, and Jones won't be able to ignore him forever.

Containing the dangerous Wallaby backs will be key for England this week, and Hartley's forwards will need to boss the gainline battle if they are to limit the space of Bernard Foley and company. If England stick to a tight, tactical game-plan, the Australians won't be as threatening as usual.


The men from the land down under are on fire after winning three on the bounce, and last week putting pay to a dangerous Welsh team at the Principality. Coach Michael Cheika has come under a lot of scrutiny for his management style over the past 18-or so months and while he may not be everybody's cup of tea, the man certainly knows how to get the best out of his side. Hats off to him.

It doesn't get much bigger than facing England at Twickenham and a victory on Saturday would be quite some statement from Cheika's boys. While he has a wealth of offensive options at his disposal, particularly amongst the backs, one can't help but feel that the Wallabies may just miss Israel Folau this weekend. Folau has been nominated as the World's Best Player, and his supreme athleticism, especially when coming into the line in broken-play, will be hard to replace.

Nevertheless, Cheika and his coaching staff would have planned for Folau's absence, and will no doubt have another cunning way with which to better the English. With a 70% chance of rain predicted for Saturday, Commander Foley will need to ensure his troops play in the right areas of the field. It can be difficult to stop the Wallabies' hulking backs from close-quarters, and the winner of the territorial battle will definetly have the upper-hand.

The 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 (c), 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 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons; 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: (players to be omitted, 16-24): 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Karmichael Hunt, 24 Henry Speight

Verdict: England 7/20
I wouldn't bet on them clearing the handicap, but the English playing at home, in what is expected to be damp conditions, will find a way to win. A lot will rest on whichever side claims the territorial advantage, but the hosts should come out on top.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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