England vs Wallabies Spring Tour Test preview and prediction

Charlie Lawry Roar Guru

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    The Wallabies head to Twickenham to take on England at 2am (AEDT) on Sunday for the penultimate match of their Spring Tour.

    The Aussies did enough to get past a rusty Welsh side last week, but know they’ll have to lift in order to vanquish the old enemy.

    England, meanwhile, have won 11 straight at Twickenham under the watch of Eddie Jones, most recently a stuttering 21-8 win over Argentina.

    They’ll be much better for the run and Michael Cheika has his work cut out to break England’s recent dominance.

    Cheika has named an unchanged team, despite the Samu Kerevi experiment failing to pay dividends just yet.

    There were whispers that Karmichael Hunt might take over at 12, but the utility man will once again play the role of super sub.

    Update: Adam Coleman was taken out of the side late due to injury, and has been replaced by a debutant in Blake Enever.

    For the home side, Maro Itoje return via the bench. With George Kruis dropped, Joe Launchbury partners Courtney Lawes in the second row ‒ a move that Jones flagged as an attempt to combat the Wallabies’ physicality.

    Speedster Anthony Watson gets his first start at fullback in the absence of Mike Brown who has been ruled out with concussion.

    The other big inclusion is Owen Farrell, who returns at inside centre after being rested for the Argentina clash.

    Wallabies
    1. Scott Sio 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 3. Sekope Kepu 4. Rob Simmons 5. Blake Enever 6. Ned Hanigan 7. Michael Hooper (c) 8. Sean McMahon 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Marika Koroibete 12. Samu Kerevi 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Reece Hodge 15. Kurtley Beale.

    Subs: Moore, Robertson, Alaalatoa, Phillip, Timani, McCalman, Phipps, Hunt.

    England
    1. Mako Vunipola 2. Dylan Hartley 3. Dan Cole 4. Joe Launchbury 5. Courtney Lawes 6. Chris Robshaw 7. Sam Underhill 8. Nathan Hughes 9. Ben Youngs 10. George Ford 11. Elliot Daly 12. Owen Farrell 13. Jonathan Joseph 14. Jonny May 15. Anthony Watson.

    Subs: George, Marler, Williams, Itoje, Simmonds, Care, Slade, Rokoduguni.

    Prediction
    There’s no doubting the ball carrying prowess of Kerevi but, with the exception of a bruising display against Japan, he’s looked uncertain in Wallaby gold this year.

    It doesn’t bode well that, in 2016, the Kerevi-Kuridrani pairing was promptly abandoned during the ill-fated 0-3 home series loss to England.

    The key with this configuration is the presence of Kurtley Beale at fullback, roaming for opportunities as both a playmaker and ball runner himself.

    The Wallabies will look to use the big centres for first-phase hit-ups with Beale swooping around for quick recycled ball.

    England aren’t messing around at the moment. They’ve lost just once in the past two years ‒ to Ireland in Dublin ‒ and appear to have added steel under Jones.

    The asterisk is that they’ve dodged the All Blacks in the fixture list since 2014. While I don’t think they’re quite as strong as they’ve been portrayed, Jones still leads Cheika in head-to-head bouts 4-0.

    If things descend into a scrappy arm wrestle, that streak is likely to continue.

    The Wallaby scrum just about got out alive against Wales. Scott Sio has been below par of late. Once again, the ref’s whistle at set piece time could well decide this one.

    I’m tipping a narrow Wallabies win, in the vain hope we don’t have to watch Farrell craning his neck towards the posts ad infinitum/nauseum.

    Wallabies by 2.