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Wallabies vs England: The jolly in West London

Andrew Roar Pro

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    The annual Twickenham Test between England and Australia promises to be as tight as Kurtley Beale’s budgie smugglers, and Eddie Jones-like blue language is sure to be uttered by fans, players, coaches and possibly even Eddie’s mother this week.

    Close to 82,000 people will fill the iconic West London stadium, with many of those in attendance christened with such intimidating names as Henry, Tarquin, Poppy and Rupert.

    Retina-burning red trousers will be worn in abundance, and the hordes will arouse once every five minutes to drunkenly belt out the song which shall not be named, before retreating to the various bars which are dotted around what is sometimes nauseatingly referred to as “HQ”.

    I briefly mentioned the walk to the stadium from Twickenham railway station last week, and it is worth noting again here.

    Starting from the Cabbage Patch pub and heading up Whitton Rd, there are all sorts of stalls with barbecues, more pubs, off-licenses for cheap beers and a general party vibe until the mightily impressive towering structure that is the ground rises in front of you.

    The front yards and flowers of the local houses in this affluent area also tend to receive extra watering at this time of year.

    Despite results for both sides being positive last weekend, there is plenty of room for improvement.

    England were downright turgid at times against Argentina, with the match being the definition of scrappy, while George Ford will be a relieved man now Owen Farrell is set to return to place-kicking duties this week.

    With Mike Brown possibly out due to concussion, this opens the door to a possible pace-to-burn back three of Anthony Watson, Elliott Daly and Johnny May (a law firm in the making) lining up, a scary proposition for Beale, Koroibete and Hodge to handle in defence.

    Australia’s performance against Wales was the definition of getting the job done as, although Beale, Genia and Coleman all had terrific games, you feel the level the team played at was a notch down from the Suncorp win against New Zealand.

    If there’s a game on this tour that demands they hit that level again, it is this weekend.

    The forward battle, as so often in Australia versus England Tests, needs to be won early, as all four victories by England over the Wallabies last year were built off the back of punishing performances by the likes of Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes.

    Finally, we hope Bernard Foley can summon the spirit of his 2015 World Cup performance against England at the same ground, not only in open play but also his goal-kicking, which needs to be as accurate as possible to counter-act the double metronome of Farrell and Daly.

    There’s only so many times a man can hear a red-faced Englishman remind them of 2003, which is believed to be the year rugby was invented for roughly 80 per cent of English fans.

    With the Ashes starting next Thursday, it is vital to get one up over the old enemy now, lest a long 12 months of brutal banter comes our way. The walk back to Twickenham station can be a dark, long and lonely place after a loss.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • Roar Guru

      November 17th 2017 @ 3:14am
      Harry Jones said | November 17th 2017 @ 3:14am | ! Report

      I fear for Ned.

      Good essay again.

      I liked eating boerewors on the way from the station to the stadium in the company of a couple of Ulstermen, one of whom seemed badly injured, and had toured SA as a young rugby player.

      The wors was badly needed on that rainy cold day, the day of the SF against the ABs.

      • Roar Pro

        November 17th 2017 @ 3:57am
        Andrew said | November 17th 2017 @ 3:57am | ! Report

        Watching Hanigan live last weekend it did seem like he didn’t have the strength to make much of a dent when running with the ball, as cliched as it has become to critique him about this. Can’t help but feel Cheika would’ve been best taking him out of the starting line-up for this game as someone like Mako V. or Hughes could really do a number on him.

        Do remember seeing plenty of South African stalls on the walk – obviously the massive Saffa diaspora in West London.

        • Roar Guru

          November 17th 2017 @ 4:18am
          Harry Jones said | November 17th 2017 @ 4:18am | ! Report

          Ned had his best game, and yes, I still agree with you that he flails around in contact, far too upright, and seems to lack “farm” strength or core power or something. I think he could get really hurt by the Poms, or at the very least, suffer an extreme mental scarring, if it has not already occurred to him. Don’t fault his effort; he just needed 2 years of hardening in the SR trenches before he starting running into these monsters.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 4:26am
            Alan said | November 17th 2017 @ 4:26am | ! Report

            If Hanigan runs at underhill he’s gonna get levelled. He’s also doesn’t have the footwork he’ll just run straight and get poleaxed

          • November 17th 2017 @ 6:14am
            Connor33 said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:14am | ! Report

            Exactly, Harry. If only Cheika would read this and, at least, put Mcal in the starting team and bench Ned.

            Ned has a chance in the power stakes when he comes on as a sub, given the starting opposition, in theory, should be a little more spent. Probably just makes for parity. Ned’s l/o work has been good, though.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 7:31am
            Celt said | November 17th 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

            Harry, Neds’ efforts are commendable but as I it he is not a backrower. watching recent games he looks somewhat lost at rucks and mauls, often arriving late then looking undecided at what to do. instead of pilfering or cleaning out, his tendency is to “flop” onto the ruck/maul which often ends in a penalty against. A great example (never quoted) was v. the S. Africans when his penalty for not moving away denied a match winning try to Will Genia. I’m not so sure that test matches of this level are the places to learn a trade.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 4:48am
      Frank said | November 17th 2017 @ 4:48am | ! Report

      Rob Simmons plus Ned Hannigan both lack impact in contact and will again need to be carried by the others to compensate. I simply dont get Cheika and his policy of picking “the thirteen best men” (plus two Waratahs). Regardless should be a cracking game.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 5:14am
      Samuel Honywill said | November 17th 2017 @ 5:14am | ! Report

      England were turgid last week but I think a lot of credit goes to Argentina for that – they came with a simple, back-to-basics gameplan, picked a massive pack (Kremer at 7!) and turned the game into a stop-start slugfest. Australia could learn something from that but Cheika would rather take a cheese grater to his naughty bits than do something similar, and to be fair it wouldn’t be playing to his team’s strengths. For all their size and power it was quite telling that Argentina didn’t manage to dominate the gainline though, and especially in defence England didn’t look like conceding for the vast majority of the game. Given Aus are coming with a big beefy centre pairing that doesn’t necessarily bode well, and I reckon Koroibete and Beale could be in for an Ireland-esque high ball assault, especially with Watson and May being good in the air. If Aus can recapture the energy they showed against NZ and England haven’t improved on last week though then it’ll be a fairly comfortable victory for the Wallabies.

      England team was announced earlier:

      Vunipola, Hartley, Cole
      Lawes, Launchbury
      Robshaw, Underhill, Hughes

      Youngs, Ford, Daly, Farrell, Joseph, May, Watson.

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

      Watson at full back is interesting – plays there for Bath but has never started there for England so I’m sure there’ll be nerves, something Aus could exploit. Offers a much different counter-attacking threat to Brown though, and with May and Daly on the wings too any loose kicks could be punished badly, either through pacey counter-attacks or Daly’s monster boot pinning Aus back in their own 22. Prefer the starting front row for Aus – we’re obviously in the Twilight Zone. That England bench is pretty serious – has a bit of everything: pace, finishing, creativity, thunderbeast carrying. Could well swing the game in England’s favour.

      • Roar Pro

        November 17th 2017 @ 8:30am
        Andrew said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        You’re not wrong about that English bench! Would hate to be knackered after 60-65 minutes only to see a fresh Marler, Itoje and Rokoduguni running at you.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 5:44am
      FunBus said | November 17th 2017 @ 5:44am | ! Report

      ‘Close to 82,000 people will fill the iconic West London stadium, with many of those in attendance christened with such intimidating names as Henry, Tarquin, Poppy and Rupert.

      Retina-burning red trousers will be worn in abundance, and the hordes will arouse once every five minutes to drunkenly belt out the song which shall not be named…’

      It reminds me of my day at the Allianz stadium. Walking passed the lines of kangaroo meat stalls, listening to ‘tie me Kangaroo Down Sport’ by Rolf Harris. Getting to the stadium and being faced with drunken hordes of foul-mouthed, spittle-flecked rednecks called ‘Bruce’ and ‘Sheila’ all decked out in cork hats, hurling abuse at poms and any indigenous bloke they happened to see while belching Waltzing Matilda into everyone’s faces.

      Of course, that could be a pathetic national stereotype I exaggerated for effect – who knows?

      • November 17th 2017 @ 6:06am
        Slane said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:06am | ! Report

        Arguably the Author is stereotyping English Rugby fans not Englishmen. If you wanted to the same thing back to Australian Rugby fans you actually wouldn’t change much of what the Author wrote. I.E. Bruce and Shiela wouldn’t be caught dead at the Rugby. They would be watching League or Australian Football. Rupert and Poppy would definitely be making an appearance at the Rugby.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 6:22am
        Redsfan1 said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:22am | ! Report

        Keep your shirt on fun bus it’s just a rugby game.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 6:31am
        aussikiwi said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

        Different name, same turgid prose and leaden, mean streaked sarcasm.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 6:52am
        Cynical Play said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        I’m sure no one is trying to claim the “better behaved yoobo fan” trophy here, but if they were it’s a no contest. As hard as we Aussies try and to get drunk and disgrace ourselves we are rank amateurs. But at least Ingerland has shipped out the hardcore yobbos to the Barmy Army and to the bovver booted soccer mob, so Rugby should be safe, Right Funbus?.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 6:52am
        rebel said | November 17th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report


      • November 17th 2017 @ 7:43am
        Adsa said | November 17th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Geez Funbus you have me all nostalgic over a rugby game and summer hasn’t even started yet.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 2:33pm
        Yoda said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

        The skin is thin on this one.

      • November 18th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Sage said | November 18th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        I knew you knew stuff Funbus BUT cork is so yesterday. It’s all screw caps now so there. Even better. No flies and a pleasant wind chime effect with every sip. Gotcha……….waltzuuurping mabuurrrpppptilda aaaaaah

    • November 17th 2017 @ 7:12am
      Galatzo said | November 17th 2017 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Hi Andrew. I well know that walk. Used to live in Orleans Road in Twickers. I’m afraid we’re in for a licking on Saturday. Their front five is pretty damn good (they can even afford to bench Itoje). And their backrow is going to pain us. Robshaw is always good value for England, Underhill hits hard and Hughes is Mr. Go Foward. Not too many weaknesses in the backs either. Ford will pin us with kicks to the corner, and their back three is probably as fast as any AB back three at least until Smith comes back. We have to hope that England have another klutzy game as a team, and that the WBs will put it all together for 80 minutes. Go Wallabies. With Farrell around puleese cut down on the penalties.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm
      Phil said | November 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      Really enjoyed that,Andrew.You have set the scene nicely for what should be a great test.Don’t take any notice of spoilsports like Funbus.

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