Brace yourselves for Australian backlash

ENGLAND vs AUSTRALIA

ENGLAND captain Lewis Moody has warned his charges they will face a team bent on revenge when Australia arrive at Twickenham for tomorrow’s showdown.

Martin Johnson’s side pulled off a landmark 21-20 triumph in June when they beat the Wallabies on their own home turf for only the third time outside a World Cup.

But Australia now have the chance to settle the scores and ensure England’s fans are the ones silenced this time, and Moody insists that will be a major incentive.

“Australia are hungry for revenge after what was a tough game in Sydney, which we just sneaked,” said the Bath flanker.

“They are playing much better rugby than they were playing in the summer.”

England are desperate to register their first win of the autumn, having seen an encouraging comeback thwarted by New Zealand in last weekend’s 26-16 reverse.

“We are very excited about this game because we realise at the weekend we had an opportunity to beat the No1 side in the world but we missed it because of a lack of composure,” Moody added.

“We were in the game to win it and the second half showed everyone the ability we have as a side. We realise we are a team that has to keep improving. We had one good win in Australia but that doesn’t make us world-beaters. Our aim is to keep getting better.”

England are tipped to dominate in the scrum, as they did in Sydney in the summer and last weekend against the All Blacks, although the Wallabies have first-choice hooker Stephen Moore (left) back in the side.

“We pride ourselves on the scrum and I think we are right up there with the best in the world at the minute,” Moody said.

“It is key that in a week like this we don’t get complacent. I think the Australians will have been away and done their homework.”

Moody also strenuously denied making comments to provoke Keven Mealamu into a headbutt that earned the New Zealand forward a four-week ban. “I certainly didn’t say anything in terms of the incident,” he added.

“My head was facing the other way. The back of my head was struck.

“It is not down to me to comment. That is what the officials are there for.”

KYRAN’S KEY CLASHES

FORMER England scrum-half Kyran Bracken explains why winning the scrum battle will help England nullify Australia’s skillful backs, unleash the attacking potential of Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs and earn victory on Saturday.

CHRIS ASHTON v JAMES O’CONNOR
Both are dangerous, but have different styles. Ashton is an out-and-out winger, fast, exciting and aggressive and up there with anyone on current form. O’Connor is their best player: a typically silky Aussie back, with more guile and skill than Ashton, and England will have to stop him playing.

BEN YOUNGS v WILL GENIA
Two of the top five scrum-halves in the world. Youngs had a good, if quiet, game last week but scored a fantastic try against Australia in June and I think he’ll be man-marked. Genia is extremely talented, gets the line going, makes breaks around rucks and is a talisman. England need to frustrate supply to him.

ENGLAND PACK v AUSSIE PACK
England’s pack is among the best but Dylan Hartley (left) isn’t as good in the scrum as Steve Thompson so has to front up. This will probably get me into trouble, but if they get ahead I wouldn’t be surprised to see Australia get too many injuries in their front row and go for an uncontested scrum.

VERDICT: If England dominate the scrum, and if it’s refereed properly, then they’ll win

Kyran is hosting a rugby business breakfast on 2 December themed ‘Managing Change’ where he will be in conversation with England captain Lewis Moody; www.gameplansolutions.co.uk