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Australia v England - Teams and Prediction

THIRD TEST: Skipper Michael Hooper said Friday that the Wallabies plan to flip the script and come out firing in a bid to combat England’s fast starts in the decisive third Test in Sydney.


Eddie Jones’s men pinned Australia back so successfully in Brisbane last weekend that they raced a 19-0 lead before Australia clawed back into a game they ultimately lost 17-25.

It followed a nervewracking 30-28 first test win for the home side in Perth with Saturday’s match at a sold-out Sydney Cricket Ground deciding who takes home the Ella-Mobbs Cup.

Hooper said his team had learned from England’s Brisbane blitz and planned to pile the pressure on early.

“We’ve got to get out of our end well. If we can, get an opportunity to utilise our set piece, get down the other end of the field,” he said.

“We’ve been able to sustain a lot of pressure, come back into the games from being behind. We want to flip that – to come out with good momentum and stack it on and put these guys under pressure.

“They did a great job last week doing that to us. We’re wanting to change that around.”


The Wallabies have been hit hard by injury and suspension, with almost half of their initial squad for the series encountering problems.

But coach Dave Rennie has repeatedly stressed the strength of depth in Australian rugby and he was able to call up an experienced campaigner like Reece Hodge to fill in at fullback.

He is among four changes with Harry Wilson in at blindside flank, James Slipper replacing Angus Bell at loosehead prop and Nick Frost slotting into the second cap.

“It’s been a challenge but we rotated through a lot of different combinations in the lead-up to this,” Hooper said.


“We’re confident in all our players that are going to roll out. Yes, there are changes and there hasn’t been too much consistency throughout this series but we’re super pleased with where the team’s at.”

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Jones’ team is aiming to become only the second ever England side to win a series in Australia, and he has urged them to find “the right balance of aggression and control”.

“It’s about being fierce but being calm, that’s the challenge for us,” he said.

They have also been upended by injuries, with Ollie Chessum and Lewis Ludlam coming into the pack to replace Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill, while Danny Care returns at scrumhalf with Jack van Poortvliet benched.

Captain Courtney Lawes said the squad was relaxed heading into the decider, a trait he said had helped them in the series.

“We have to get everything we can out of training and it has to be intense and we have to do everything under pressure,” he said.

“But when we get back to the hotel, we enjoy ourselves, have fun, let go, don’t think about rugby, be a team, enjoy each other’s company. We’ve made it a much more enjoyable environment.

“We’re doing it because that’s how you actually get the best out of the team, it’s all for a reason,” he added.

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Players to watch:

For Australia: Coach Dave Rennie has made a couple of changes to the starting XV with lock Nick Frost earning his first Test start and James Slipper returning to the familiar loosehead prop role in place of Angus Bell. The inclusion of the former Melbourne Storm Suliasi Vunivalu is one to look out for. Vunivalu switched codes ahead of the 2021 Super Rugby season but the Reds flyer battled ongoing hamstring trouble which limited his chances to push for Test selection. Reds lose forward Harry Wilson and Melbourne fullback Reece Hodge were named in the starting side.

For England: Danny Care has been reinstated as the scrumhalf for the decider. The veteran, who has come back into the starting XV at the expense of youngster Jack van Poortvliet, has to be in top form if he wants to make the No.9 jersey his own. In other changes, lock Ollie Chessum will make his starting debut with Maro Itoje unavailable after a head-knock, while Lewis Ludlam is the new starting openside flank with Sam Underhill also suffering a concussion.

Last 10 encounters:

2016: England won, 23-7, Melbourne
2016: England won 44-40, Sydney
2016: England won 37-21, London
2017: England won 30-6, London
2018: England won 37-18, London
2019: England won 40-16, Oita (RWC Quarterfinal)
2021: England won 32-15, London
2022: Australia won 30-28, Perth
2022: England won 25-17, Brisbane

@rugby365com: Australia by three points.


Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Harry Wilson, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu.

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Chessum, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Will Joseph, 23 Henry Arundell.

Date: Saturday, July 16
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.55 (10.55 UK & Ireland time; 09.55 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be mostly cloudy with a high of 16°C and a low of 11°C
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Hart (New Zealand)

AFP & @rugby365


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