The Wallabies’ marathon 2016 is about to end, as Australia takes on England at Twickenham on Sunday morning (AEDT).
England is yet to lose a Test under Eddie Jones and is on the verge of equalling its longest winning streak, with 13 victories under their belt.
For the Wallabies, redemption for a 3-0 whitewash in June and the hunger to avoid their worst season since 2005, ironically under Eddie Jones, will be hanging over their heads
Both sides have made tweaks heading into this much-hyped clash, with Jones bringing in Nathan Hughes and Marland Yarde to replace injured No.8 Billy Vunipola and suspended winger Elliot Daly.
Nick Phipps will start at scrumhalf for the Wallabies for the first time since their 32-8 win over Wales, with Will Genia unavailable due to French club commitments.
Kane Douglas comes into the second row, teaming up with Rugby World Cup 2015 partner Rob Simmons, while Sefa Naivalu will start on the wing, for the second time in three weeks.
HOW TO WATCH
Australia vs England will be shown live on SBS and beIn Sport 3 (Foxtel Channel 515), kicking off at 1:30am AEDT Sunday.
A win at Twickenham would be England’s 14th consecutive Test win - their longest streak since 2002-03.
England’s most recent Test loss came at the hands of Australia at Twickenham - a 33-13 defeat at last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Stephen Moore will become the second-most capped Wallaby, playing his 117th Test, behind only George Gregan (139) in the tally.
Nick Phipps vs Ben Youngs
The battle of the halves was series-defining in June and England have hinted they will be targeting the Wallabies here again. Australia’s No.9 says he has learned from June where he was taken out and harassed at the breakdown, while Michael Cheika has put the onus on his forwards to ensure that they protect him. Youngs has become one of England’s most influential players in one of its most successful seasons ever, a dynamic scrumhalf who moves the ball quickly.
Nathan Hughes vs Lopeti Timani
The battle of the No.8s looks vastly different this time around compared to the equation the Wallabies faced in June. With monster ball carrier Billy Vunipola out of the side, England has lost a hugely influential presence, while the Wallabies have brought in their own super-sized No.8 in Timani. If Timani can be the physical presence the Wallabies need, he can turn the game.
WHERE IT WILL BE WON
Never has there been a week so dominated by conversations about angles in scrums. Eddie Jones went on the offensive after England’s win over Argentina, pointing the finger at Australia’s scrum problems. After that the focus was turned back on England and Dan Cole. Cole’s angles at the scrum have been much-debated and the Wallabies will be hoping any illegalities are picked up by referee Jaco Peyper and his assistants at Twickenham. Australia was punished at the scrum against Ireland last weekend (though they believed unfairly), and this will be a match-defining contest.
Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, 4. Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Sefa Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Tom Robertson, Dean Mumm, Sean McMahon, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Henry Speight
Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Nathan Hughes, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph, Marland Yarde, Mike Brown. Reserves: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Charlie Ewels, Teimana Harrison, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Henry Slade