Preview: England v Australia

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England will be eager to wrap up a perfect 2016 under Eddie Jones when they face a wounded Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Wallabies are hurting for two reasons; one being after last week’s loss to Ireland and the other after falling 3-0 to England in June.

Ending with a successful revenge mission is the objective for the visitors but in England they take on a nation riding high at the moment.

Jones’ side are currently on a 13 game winning stretch in 2016 and even managed to see off Argentina last week with 14 men for 76 minutes.

It would be an incredible achievement to finish unbeaten, in fact a better word might be unthinkable after how England crashed out of the Rugby World Cup just over a year ago. There’s a huge amount of belief and intelligence in this squad at the moment that has to be admired.

Australia will no doubt feel buoyed by their opponents being without Billy Vunipola but in Nathan Hughes they have an excellent replacement at number eight. He is one of two changes to this week’s line-up for this Test finale with wing Marland Yarde in for Elliot Daly the other.

Meanwhile the Wallabies have freshened their XV after that Dublin loss as Kane Douglas, Lopeti Timani, Sefanaia Naivalu and Nick Phipps start, with boss Michael Cheika rallying his men for a win that would not only feel good but also take them second in the World Rankings.

Sealing what would be a shock win due to recent results against England would take some doing though and crucially a better start than they had at the Aviva Stadium. Not scoring a point in the first 39 minutes was unlike Australia and something they surely have addressed.

They showed plenty in the second half, however, but it’s hard to avoid the fatigue factor of such a long season for this group of players, which started way back in January for Super Rugby pre-season.

Contrast how the English are feeling and the majority of arrows point to a home victory that would secure an outstanding year, sending the Wallabies back Down Under with a fourth straight loss to their rival.

Previous results:

2016: England won 44-40 in Sydney
2016: England won 23-7 in Melbourne
2016: England won 39-28 in Brisbane
2015: Australia won 33-13 at Twickenham (RWC Semi Final)
2014: England won 26-17 at Twickenham
2013: England won 20-13 at Twickenham
2012: Australia won 20-14 at Twickenham
2010: England won 35-18 at Twickenham
2010: England won 21-20 in Sydney

The teams:

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 David Pocock, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Henry Speight

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)


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