England & Australia Name Their Teams For Crucial World Cup Clash
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Australia will line up with openside flankers David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the back row for Saturday’s crunch Rugby World Cup match against England after Michael Cheika reverted to his first choice starting side.
Given the tight turnaround between their first two Pool A matches, Cheika put out almost completely different line-ups for the opening 28-13 victory over Fiji in Cardiff and last weekend’s 65-3 humbling of Uruguay.
Cheika on Thursday returned to the stronger line-up he started against the Pacific Islanders for Saturday’s clash at Twickenham against the hosts, with Pocock playing in the number eight shirt for the third time this year.
Cheika will hope the combination, which was first tried out in the victory over world champions New Zealand in August, will give Australia the edge at the breakdown over England’s less mobile back row without compromising the team’s physicality.
The eight-man bench will not be named until after Thursday’s training session but it can be expected to be weighted towards the forwards with perhaps even a place for a third openside in Sean McMahon, who was outstanding against Uruguay.
Cheika must change at least one of his replacements from the Fiji match after lock Will Skelton was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a pectoral injury earlier this week.
“We’ve been working hard each day this week to improve our game before we play England on Saturday,” said Cheika.
“I believe that this group has been really clear on where we must improve and the level we must be at to compete with England and we know that it’s going to be a very tough challenge.”
Will Genia and Bernard Foley will resume their unfamiliar halfback partnership at Twickenham with Matt Giteau winning his 98th test cap at inside centre and likely to take the ball at first receiver on occasions as well.
Rob Horne retains his place on the wing after a solid defensive performance against the dangerous Fijian outside backs, while Adam Ashley-Cooper will win his 110th cap on the other flank.
Jonathan Joseph has been named in England’s team to start against Australia, with Brad Barritt switched back to inside centre and Owen Farrell retained at flyhalf.
Joseph, England’s star performer at outside centre over the past year, has recovered from a chest injury that kept him out of last week’s Pool A defeat against Wales and will be expected to add the cutting edge desperately needed to unlock the Wallabies’ defence.
Defensive organiser Barritt, who looked short of his best against Wales, will be more comfortable in his usual position outside Saracens club mate Farrell.
Flyhalf Farrell had an exemplary game with the boot last week, scoring 20 points, to fend off the challenge of George Ford, who is named among the replacements, along with rugby league convert Sam Burgess.
Ben Morgan has also recovered from a knee injury to start at number eight, but lock Courtney Lawes is ruled out, allowing Joe Launchbury to start alongside Geoff Parling in the second row.
There is also a place on the bench for 37-year-old Nick Easter, who was drafted in to the squad this week to replace Billy Vunipola after the big number eight was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.
15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Tom Youngs, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (C), 8 Ben Morgan
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 George Kruis, 20 Nick Easter, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Sam Burgess
1 Scott Sio, 2 Stephen Moore (C), 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Kane Douglas, 5 Rob Simmons, 6 Scott Fardy, 7 Michael Hooper, 8 David Pocock, 9 Will Genia, 10 Bernard Foley, 11 Rob Horne, 12 Matt Giteau, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15 Israel Folau.
Replacements: To be confirmed