AFTER months of careful planning, preparation, and fans’ anticipation, England’s Autumn Internationals all comes down to this.
The Red Rose will run out at Twickenham tomorrow for the final time of 2014 to take on Australia, knowing that yet another defeat to a Southern Hemisphere side will cast serious doubt on their ability to emerge from Pool A at the Rugby World Cup, let alone lift the trophy.
After successive disappointing defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Stuart Lancaster’s England got back to winning ways last weekend against a Samoa side distracted by a long-running pay dispute, easing to a 28-9 final scoreline care of George Ford’s composed display in his first start, and a rampaging run from winger Jonny May.
A fine five-point win in Cardiff opened Australia’s European jaunt three weeks ago, however consecutive three point defeats to inconsistent France, and the in-form Irish, will have many wondering if Michael Cheika’s side are terminally poor under pressure or are due to come good just at the perfect time.
Lancaster has confirmed the same 23-man squad will take on Australia tomorrow as dispatched Samoa, with Billy Twelvetrees set to make his first start of the autumn after impressing off the bench.
But Lancaster and England fans will know a much more disciplined performance is required if they are to truly start building momentum ahead of the World Cup. Australia will be back at Twickenham for the World Cup Pool A crunch match in 307 days’ time.
Yet the momentum is with the home side as England have won three of the last four meetings with the Wallabies, but they are usually very tight affairs. In fact, England have outscored Australia just 374-356 in the 23 matches they have contested in England. Sporting Index has pitched England’s supremacy at 2-5 for this clash – it will undoubtedly be close.
Supremacy buyers would certainly enjoy a rerun of the 17-point victory in the corresponding fixture of 2010’s Autumn International series, but a smarter bet may be to sell total match tries at 3.7. With neither side wanting to give too much away, expect tight, defensive rugby.
Desperately needing a victory, expect England to take the points on offer at every opportunity, so buying England’s kicking metres at 170 is recommended.
Sell total match tries at 3.7 with Sporting Index
Buy England’s kicking metres at 170 with Sporting Index