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Ahead of the series decider between Australia and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground, we pick out our five talking points for the pivotal fixture.
Check out what we’re keeping an eye out for on Saturday, here.
Extra niggle incoming in Sydney
While there’s been the odd moment of niggle that included Jonny Hill’s antics with Darcy Swain in the first Test that ultimately saw the Wallaby red carded, we’re largely in agreement with England forwards coach Richard Cockerill that it’s been pretty “tame” thus far in the series. However, with the prospect of series glory on the line, that could all change on Saturday and we expect there will be lots for the officiating team to deal with. Keeping cool will be key.
Eddie’s big call at scrum-half
Last weekend’s player of the match Jack van Poortvliet was a surprising omission from the England starting XV announced on Thursday as Eddie Jones opted for Danny Care at scrum-half. On his first start, Van Poortvliet looked made for international rugby as he calmly dictated play, albeit behind a dominant forward pack in Brisbane. We were hugely impressed with the youngster’s performance but Jones has decided to go for the more experience Care, explaining that it was because of Paul Williams’ appointment as referee, saying that he officiates a quicker game which will suit Care more than Van Poortvliet. We wait to see.
England beware of Reece Hodge
Australia have named their third different full-back this series for the decider, but England should arguably be most concerned about this latest inclusion. Hodge possesses one of, if not, the biggest boots in world rugby and his ability to garner extra ground with precision touch finders should be utilised by Australia. It’s not just out of hand that he can be a threat as off the tee he’s been known to clip over penalties from 65 metres plus. If England infringe anywhere near the Wallabies’ 10-metre line expect Hodge to be called up to take a shot at goal. The full-back could play a key role in this Sydney meeting.
Will stoppages be an issue?
England head coach Jones has made his feelings known on the number of stoppages and how he thinks it’s harming rugby union’s product. The Australian believes the sport has become too stop-start, with referees being far too pedantic when it comes to high tackles, saying the rhythm of the game is affected. “We’ve got to keep the game safe, don’t get me wrong, but accidental head contact and this incessant use of the TMO, we’ve got to cut that out,” Jones said. “We’ve got to get a better balance in the game. We have gone to trying to play everything absolutely right like it’s a tennis game.” This area will be interesting to watch.
Australia must start better
It’s no secret that the Wallabies have been a Jekyll and Hyde team when looking at the halves in the opening two Tests. Perth saw them put two penalty goals on the scoreboard before the half-time oranges and then rack up 24 points thanks to three second-half tries. In the second meeting they were scoreless until Taniela Tupou’s 37th minute try got them moving, again long after England had shot out of the blocks. If Australia are to win this series, their start must be better and there’s no doubt that’s been a work-on for Dave Rennie during the week. Be in touch at the break and they should come home strong yet again.
READ MORE: Australia v England preview: Eddie Jones’ men to edge to series victory over the Wallabies
The article Australia v England: Five talking points ahead of third Test including Danny Care’s tempo and Reece Hodge’s monster boot appeared first on Planetrugby.com.