England’s destructive scrum has won Tests against Australia before – the 2007 World Cup the prime example – and although Martin Johnson preferred to look at the positives rather than another match of missed opportunities against the All Blacks, England will still have to take advantage of their expected forward dominance and be much improved to topple the Aussies.
Andrew Sheridan has man-handled the Wallabies before, but relying solely on set-piece dominance won’t win it for England.
Their best performance in three years under Johnson came against Australia in the last meeting between the sides, and they’ll have to replicate that attacking performance if they’re to trouble Australia again.
Toby Flood was solid last week, but his tendency to take the ball too deep negates any front foot ball.
The Australian scrum is the definite weakness, and the ability of their brilliant backline to handle that associated pressure will be vital.
The way the Aussie back-three have counter-attacked has also been a revelation, and the way the English kick will be vital, as the Aussies punished Wales last week. Dylan Hartley – who is lucky to be there after escaping a citing and sanction for an illegal clearout on Richie McCaw – is the only change to England, and indicates the type of aggression they’re looking for to disrupt the Aussies up front.
Australia will be happy with the expected clear and sunny forecast, and they’ll attempt to avoid the set-pieces as far as possible and attempt to move the big English pack around with their high-tempo game. With Craig Joubert as referee, both sides will be rewarded by keeping ball in hand, and here the Wallabies have an advantage.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Lewis Moody (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 David Wilson, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Hendre Fourie, 20 Danny Care, 21 Charlie Hodgson, 22 Delon Armitage.
Australia – revised: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O’Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (captain), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slipper, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Lachie Turner.
Date: Saturday 13 November
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Expected weather: Sunny and clear with a minimum of 6°C and high of 12°C
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Simon Mcdowell (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)