Rugby World Cup 2015

English hell for Aussies

Lancaster's side hope that past Wallabies' losses at Twickenham have left mental scars

LONDON • Ben Morgan has warned Australia that England's pack are ready to reawaken their Twickenham demons in a pivotal World Cup clash tomorrow.

The Gloucester No. 8 was man of the match last November, scoring two tries in a barnstorming individual performance as England subdued the Wallabies to win 26-17.

That chastening defeat for Australia - their third loss in their past four visits to Twickenham - prompted Michael Cheika, the newly installed head coach, to recruit Mario Ledesma in a bid to beef up the Wallabies' scrum.

The former Argentina hooker has succeeded, with Australia showing a marked improvement in the set-piece and the maul during the Rugby Championship.

But Morgan believes that Australia's mental scars of facing England will still be raw.

Stuart Lancaster's team must win to avoid becoming the first single host nation to fail to reach the knockout stage and their set-piece was one of the positive features in a 28-25 defeat by Wales.

"We have pulled tighter," Morgan said. "Yes, they have improved but we are confident.

"Our set-piece, in particular, was good against Wales and I believe Australia will definitely be concerned after reviewing that game.

"It is such a confrontational part of the game, particularly scrum time. It's like an all-eight battle and when you are on the wrong end of it, they'll definitely have some doubts in their mind.

"You want to go in there strong, put a statement down early and allow those demons to grow."

Cheika, however, gave short shrift to those remarks.

"I know they think we're weak in the forwards. It's pretty obvious that they're saying it out loud," the Australia coach said as he announced his starting XV yesterday. They are the same team who beat Fiji 28-13 in Australia's opening game.

"They've done it to us, they've stuck it to us the last couple of times so there's nothing we can say in our room that's going to make any difference.

"The only place things are going to be different is on the field on Saturday night and that's where we've got to show our colours.

"Talk's cheap, you know."

He also stressed that Australia will not have revenge on their minds although he was referring to a different defeat - the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

Then, a Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal in the dying seconds gave England a famous win.

"That would be the wrong reason to be playing the game," said Cheika, who has kept faith with his hard men Michael Hooper and David Pocock to break down England's resistance. "Anything we are doing here is for us."

England have recalled fit-again centre Jonathan Joseph.

He missed the defeat by Wales with a chest injury and returns at outside-centre. Brad Barritt moves back across to his more familiar inside-centre position.

Owen Farrell, who landed all of his goal-kicks against Wales, retained his place at fly-half, with George Ford again on the bench.

Lock Courtney Lawes is ruled out, allowing Joe Launchbury to start alongside Geoff Parling in the second row.

Such is the importance of this Pool A clash that Parling has labelled it England's World Cup final. "Our World Cup final has come a little earlier and it's a massive game against Australia.

"The hunger is unbelievable," he said. "This is the game of our lives."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'English hell for Aussies'. Print Edition | Subscribe