Australia v England - Teams and Prediction
THE SECOND TEST: Australia and England are gearing up for a “gladiatorial” forwards battle in the second Test in Brisbane on Saturday with the clash between big props Taniela Tupou and Ellis Genge shaping as pivotal.
A 14-man Australia broke an eight-match losing streak against the English with their 30-28 win over the visitors in Perth last weekend.
With both sides making a host of changes for the second Test, the two camps see the forward battle as crucial, particularly in the tight five.
Australian captain Michael Hooper said Friday the Wallabies, who welcome back massive tighthead prop Tupou, were ready for the challenge.
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“We expect every Test match to bring a level of intensity around the set-piece and the forwards battle,” he said. “So much of that allows your backs to attack well, defend better and get easy exits out of your own zone or into the opposition’s zone.
“We need to be really on with our set-piece and that physicality battle, so we’re both trying to do the same thing.”
Tupou, who tips the scales at 135 kilograms (297 pounds), missed the last half of the Super Rugby season and the first Test with a calf injury.
But he has recovered and comes in for Alan Ala’alatoa, who misses the match due to a concussion.
His opponent Saturday will be highly-rated English loosehead Ellis Genge, who was relishing the clash with Tupou.
“I love playing against the best tightheads in the world,” Genge said. “I ain’t never played against him, never met him, but I’ve seen his highlights when he was 16 and that.
“He’s a big lump, isn’t he? It’s very different, every scrum you’ve just got to work it out.”
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England forwards coach Richard Cockerill predicted the battle between Tupou and Genge could decide the Test.
“[Tupou’s] exceptionally explosive,” Cockerill said.
“It should be a good set-piece battle with him and Ellis, so it all sets it up for a nice tasty evening, doesn’t it?
“Let’s look forward to it – we’re an English pack that want to get in the middle of it.
“We want it to be gladiatorial, physical, we want people to come [and say] ‘that first clash it’s going to be great, let’s go and see it’. Let’s enjoy the physical parts, the feisty parts and, within the laws of the game, let’s get into it.”
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England coach Eddie Jones has revamped his backline as pressure mounts on him to keep his job leading into the 2023 World Cup.
Jack van Poortvliet will make his first start at scrumhalf, replacing veteran Danny Care, after scoring a late try off the bench last weekend.
Jones also handed debuts to Tommy Freeman on the left wing and Australian-born and raised Guy Porter at outside centre, in place of the under-performing Joe Cokanasiga and Joe Marchant.
Bath flank Sam Underhill, meanwhile, was brought in for Tom Curry, who went off after a head knock in Perth and has returned home.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has made five changes, with his hand forced by injuries and suspensions after the brutal Perth battle.
Fullback Andrew Kellaway hurt his hamstring in training and has been replaced by Jordan Petaia, with the Brumbies’ Tom Wright starting on the wing.
Hard-running Hunter Paisami replaces Len Ikitau at outside centre, while Matt Philip comes in for the suspended Darcy Swain at lock.
Players to watch:
For Australia: Injuries have forced Dave Rennie to make some bold changes to his team. In the backline, Jordan Petaia, usually a wing, starts in the No.15 jersey for the first time at the international level. Petaia really impressed last week when he replaced Tom Banks. Tom Wright also gets a start this week, the Brumbies wing is a powerful runner and can cause major problems for the English defence. In the pack, prop Taniela Tupou back from injury to replace Allan Alaalatoa. Tupou has to be in fine form and add the much-needed physicality to the Australia scrums.
For England: There will be loads of pressure on Jack van Poortvliet will make his first start for England at scrumhlaf. Van Poortvliet, who scored a try coming on as a replacement last weekend, will partner with Marcus Smith as this week’s halfbacks. Smith certainly has to prove himself after last weekend’s below-par performance. Tommy Freeman (left-wing) and Guy Porter (outside centre) also make their respective debut. There is just one change in the pack.
Head to head:
The big talking the whole week has been the return of Taniela Tupou, which sets up a mammoth battle against Ellis Genge. Both players are strong scrummagers and will be out to get their respective teams some forward dominance. The young halfback pair of England Marcus Smith and Jack van Poortvliet will certainly have their work cut out for them as they go up againt Noah Lolesio and Wallabies veteran Nic White.
Last 10 encounters:
2016: England won 39-28, Brisbane
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
@rugby365com: Wallabies by five points.
Australia: 15 Jordan Petaia, 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 Rob Leota, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 James Slipper, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Izaia Perese.
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Jack Willis, 22 Danny Care, 23 Henry Arundell.
Date: Saturday, July 9
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.55 (10.55 UK & Ireland time; 09.55 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be clear and sunny with a high of 18°C and a low of 7°C
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand); Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Additional source: AFP