Wallabies determined to learn England lessons

Michael Hooper (Getty)
Michael Hooper (Getty)

Twickenham - Australia will look to put the lessons of four successive defeats by England to good use when they meet their old rivals in Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

England have a perfect played four, won four record against the Wallabies under Australian coach Eddie Jones, including a 3-0 series win Down Under last year. Their most recent meeting saw England triumph 37-21 at Twickenham in December.

"It (Twickenham) is a hard place to win," Australia captain Michael Hooper told reporters at the ground on Friday.

"You have to be able to build pressure and we were not able to get scoreboard pressure last year.

"We had a lot of the ball early but weren't able to get points and that stung us.

"We know there were some really big moments in all four games and we have to be on the right side of them."

The last time Australia beat England was when they knocked the hosts out of the 2015 World Cup with a 33-13 pool phase victory at Twickenham, however the Wallabies are now the form team in world rugby.

They head into Saturday's Cook Cup tussle unbeaten in seven games and on a run of four wins in a row, including a victory over world champions New Zealand, after last weekend's 29-21 defeat of Wales.

Long admired for their ball-playing skill, Australia are now also winning plaudits for their power game.

"We've shown through winning games in different ways that you are starting to see a harder edge... We're liking where we're progressing," Hooper said.

Australia will, however, want to avoid the kind of high penalty count against them they suffered in Cardiff.

Although it did not cost them a 13th successive victory over Wales, they were reduced to 14 men when star flanker Hooper was shown a yellow card.

"A lot of those penalties were around the ruck," said Hooper.

"Everything happens so quick and when you do get it wrong, like at the back end of that game, you get a bit frantic.

"I didn't help by leaving 14 men on the field."

The build-up to Saturday's match has been dominated by accusations from Australia coach Michael Cheika that a "bullying" England deliberately late-tackle the Wallaby half-backs.

"I know it's something the halves have been working on," said Hooper. "You've got to be careful with doing it, you can give away a penalty.

"It's certainly a tactic to try to slow our ball down."

Hooper, however, insisted this was a common ploy throughout Test rugby union.

"It's just a tactic that you see not only England do, but a lot of other teams around the world."

As for how Australia would respond to being "roughed up", Hooper said: "Stick to our game. At the end of the day you've got to get the ball over the sticks or on the try-line."

Meanwhile Hooper stressed it was important that Australia did not get carried away by any preconceived notions of a home game-plan as devised by Jones, the Wallabies' boss when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney.

"You don't know what they (England) are going to bring out. They might be all this talk they are going to rough you up and they stand back."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 16:30 SA time.

Teams:

England

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

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Danny Care, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni

Australia

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

Substitutes (one to be omitted, 16-24): 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Karmichael Hunt, 24 Henry Speight
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