The final team to play their first match of RWC 2019 is the USA. The Eagles will do so on Thursday against title contenders England in Kobe. England’s second game falls just four days after their campaign begin with a bonus-point win over Tonga in Sapporo.
There are 10 changes in all to England’s starting lineup, with Joe Marler the only man retained in the tight five. Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dan Cole come in at hooker and tighthead prop respectively, with Joe Launchbury and George Kruis forming a beefy second row partnership. Lewis Ludlam replaces Sam Underhill in the No7 shirt.
With Owen Farrell left on the bench it’s George Ford who captains the side. He is partnered by Willi Heinzin the halfbacks, with Piers Francis named at inside center. It’s Jonathan Joseph outside him, with two new wingers in Bath pair Joe Cokanasiga and Ruaridh McConnochie.
On the bench there are first World Cup appearances for backup hooker Jack Singleton and loose forward Mark Wilson. On a lightly worrying note for England fans there is no sign of Henry Slade. The versatile Exeter back has been struggling with a knee injury.
Gary Gold has named his top team to take on the Six Nations heavyweights. 19-year-old David Ainu’u is a surprise choice to start at loosehead, with English Premiership regulars Joe Taufete’e and Titi Lamositele bolstering the front row. There is no place for veteran Eric Fry as Olive Kilifi and Paul Mullen are the nominated prop replacements.
A major boost to the side is found in the second row as Nick Civetta has remarkably recovered from a dislocated ankle suffered against Canada in late July to take his place in the run-on side. Tony Lamborn also returns to the starting lineup with Hanco Germishuys swapped to the bench.
Another hugely significant return is that of star flyhalf AJ MacGinty, who has shaken off an ankle injury to take his place at No10. Marcel Brache again partners Paul Lasike in the midfield as Martin Iosefo is preferred in the wing. Bryce Campbell waits his turn on the bench along with Mike Te’o. Former England u20 flyhalf Will Hooley lines up at fullback against his home country.
Thursday’s pool match is to be just the sixth test match between England and the USA. There first was at RWC 1987 with England winning 34-6 in Australia. The four remaining fixtures were also English wins. The closest match was the most recent when England were 28-10 winners in France at RWC 2007.
The presence of Civetta and MacGinty is a major boost to the USA, who will be firing on all cylinders as they look to take a step up in RWC 2019. England have more than enough depth to handle the short turnaround and are still heavy favorites, though the final score may be closer than their fans envision.
RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED
ENG (on 88.13 points) -vs- USA (on 72.18 points) in a RWC match
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|If ENG win by 1-15 points||0.000||88.13||72.18||No|
|If ENG win by more than 15||0.000||88.13||72.18||No|
|If result is a draw||2.000||86.13||74.18||No|
|If USA win by 1-15 points||4.000||84.13||76.18||No|
|If USA win by more than 15||6.000||82.13||78.18||No|
1 Joe Marler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 George Kruis, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Billy Vunipola, 9 Willi Heinz, 10 George Ford (capt.), 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 12 Piers Francis, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 15 Elliot Daly
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Anthony Watson
1 David Ainu’u, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Ben Landry, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Tony Lamborn, 7 John Quill, 8 Cam Dolan, 9 Shaun Davies, 10 AJ MacGinty, 11 Martin Iosefo, 12 Paul Lasike, 13 Marcel Brache, 14 Blaine Scully (capt.), 15 Will Hooley
Replacements: 16 Dylan Fawsitt, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Paul Mullen, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Hanco Germishuys, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Bryce Campbell, 23 Mike Te’o
Date: Thursday, September 26
Kick-Off: 19:45 local
Venue: Misaki Stadium, Kobe
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistants: Federico Anselmi (Argentina) & Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)