Preview: Australia vs England in Melbourne

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

It’s do or die for the Wallabies in the second Test, as they look to level the series and push it to a decider in Sydney next weekend.

Michael Cheika has made four changes to his starting side with James Slipper and Sekope Kepu replacing Scott Sio and and Greg Holmes in the front row, while Sam Carter comes straight into the starting lineup at lock ahead of Rob Simmons, and Sean McMahon replaces the injured David Pocock at number 8. Australia came out firing in game one, scoring two tries in the opening 16 minutes, before England clawed their way back through the boot of Owen Farrell to win the game.

Eddie Jones has kept the same forward pack that dominated Australia last week, making two changes to the backline with George Ford coming in at flyhalf, shifing Farrell to inside centre ahead of Luther Burrell, and Jack Nowell will start ahead of Marland Yarde after scoring an 80th minute try last week.  

Key stats

The Wallabies will play their 300th match on home soil

Australia has never lost the second Test of a three-Test series at home

England recorded their first ever win over Australia in Brisbane last Saturday

Key match ups

Michael Hooper vs James Haskell

The battle of the number seven jersey will be vital for either side’s chances of winning. James Haskell is coming off a man of the match performance last weekend where he dominated at the breakdown to overpower the ever reliable combination of Hooper and David Pocock.

Michael Hooper scored two tries last weekend. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

While Haskell won the honours on the night, Hooper was still one of the Wallabies' best, scoring two of Australia’s four tries. The inclusion of Sean McMahon in the team means that Hooper's role will change slightly and he'll play a bit tighter to the backs. Expect an entertaining battle.

Samu Kerevi vs Owen Farrell

Kerevi was impressive in his Test debut last weekend, and with 80 minutes of Test rugby under his belt, expect the big centre to come out firing. Kerevi teamed up nicely with Tevita Kuridrani in the centres, complementing his childhood friend with more skill than most probably acknowledge.

Owen Farrell was named at flyhalf last week before shifting to inside centre when George Ford replaced Luther Burrell early in the first half, and it was Farrell’s boot that won England the match kicking 9/10 and despite England scoring two less tries, managed to win by 11 points.

Owen Farrell kicked 9/10 with the boot in Brisbane. Photo: Getty Images

Where will the game be won?

The breakdown. We saw Haskell wreak havoc in that area last week but don’t expect it to happen again. While the Wallabies will be without their main pilferer in David Pocock, expect the likes of Scott Fardy and McMahon to step up in his absence. The Wallabies will need to be wary of giving away as many penalties as last week after seeing how dangerous Farrell can be in front of goal.


Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Rob Horne (VC), Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (VC), Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (C), James Slipper

Bench – Tatafu Polota-Nau, Toby Smith, Greg Holmes, Dean Mumm, Ben McCalman, Nick Frisby, Luke Morahan, Christian Lealiifano


Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathon Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell , George Ford, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (C), Mako Vunipola

Bench – Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daley

The opening Test between the Qantas Wallabies and England will be screened LIVE in High Definition and ad-break free on FOX SPORTS 502 from 7.30pm AEST and LIVE on Ten from 7.30pm AEST for QLD, NSW and ACT viewers (on ONE in other Australian States and Territories). Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel Go (for FOX SPORTS subscribers) and for the first time on TenPlay.