England will be looking for their first away Test-series win against one of the big three southern hemisphere rugby nations in Melbourne on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
England made history last week when they beat the Wallabies in Brisbane for the first time in five attempts. The 39-28 win also saw them achieve their highest points tally in a match against the Wallabies in the 45th meeting between the sides.
However, coach Eddie Jones was quick to point out that the job is not done yet. 'History shows that the Wallabies don't lose second Tests [of a series],' he said. 'They always bounce back well.' Jones referred to the 2001 Test series between the Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions, which saw the tourists convincingly win the first match, before losing the next two.
The Wallabies should produce a better performance in Melbourne than they did in Brisbane, simply because last week's Test was the first time they had played together since the World Cup final on 31 October. England, meanwhile, had come into the first Test on the back of a six-match winning streak this year, and a first Grand Slam since 2003.
However, Jones said after the Brisbane win that his team had not played well. 'We can improve significantly in terms of our ball carry and second-man work, we can improve significantly in terms of our defensive spacing and we can put more set-piece pressure on Australia.'
England certainly didn't play well during the first 15 minutes of the first Test, conceding two tries. They were fortunate not to concede a third when the hosts had a try ruled out due to obstruction.
It was a big call from Jones that got his team back into the game. On the 29-minute mark, the coach substituted inside centre Luther Burrell, who had been exposed defensively, with George Ford coming on at flyhalf and Owen Farrell shifting to 12. The visitors' defence was shored up, and they changed from a direct attacking game to one with more width. The result was three tries and a memorable victory, so it's no surprise to see Ford and Farrell named at 10 and 12 respectively for the second Test (in the only other change to the starting XV, Jack Nowell replaces Marland Yarde on the left wing).
The Wallabies also scored three tries in Brisbane, but with Samu Kerevi at 12 they missed having a second playmaker, with Bernard Foley having to take on more responsibility at flyhalf. Christian Leali'ifano started the match on the bench, having joined the squad late after the birth of his first child. While he came on as early as the 29th minute, it was for Rob Horne on the left wing. Kerevi has retained the No 12 jersey for Saturday's match with Leali'ifano again among the substitutes.
The Wallabies' scrum humiliated England's during last year's World Cup pool match at Twickenham, but it was a different story in Brisbane, as the visitors dominated up front. Former Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns claimed afterwards that England had scrummed illegally, with tighthead prop Dan Cole 'angling in'. Jones responded by saying that Kearns was part of an 'orchestrated campaign' to destablise the tourists and that he always coached teams to scrum straight.
Cheika has responded to that poor scrummaging performance by replacing props Scott Sio and Greg Holmes with James Slipper and Sekope Kepu. Holmes is on the bench, but Sio falls out of the match-day squad completely. In other changes to the pack, Sean McMahon comes in for No 8 David Pocock, who has been ruled out of the rest of the series with a fractured eye socket, while Sam Carter starts at No 5 lock after Rob Simmons failed to overcome a back injury.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Wallabies 25, England 19, Draw 1
In Australia: Wallabies 14, England 4
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Leali'ifano, 23 Luke Morahan.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Jack Clifford, 22 Danny Care, 23 Elliot Daly.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Photo: William West/AFP Photo