Australia vs England: Three key clashes ahead of mouth-watering third Test in Sydney

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Australia vs England: Three key clashes ahead of mouth-watering third Test in Sydney
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England’s fantastic win in Brisbane last week has set up a mouth-watering third and final Test against Australia in Sydney.

Owen Farrell kicked 20 points in a hard-fought 17-25 victory as the Red Rose ended a miserable run of four losses on the bounce to level the series

Here, Adam Hathaway looks at three key clashes ahead of the decider.

Rob Valetini v Billy Vunipola

Both these No8s have been among the best players for their respective teams in the series. Valetini, at 23, is a young buck making his way on the international stage, while Vunipola is on the comeback trail.

He was outstanding in the Second Test and his since spoken well about his struggles while out of the side. Lacking a massive physical specimen in their backline means the punch Vunipola and Ellis Genge provide is absolutely vital.

Reece Hodge v Freddie Steward

Hodge is a veteran of 51 Tests, but a loss of form meant he was not in the original Wallabies squad for the series. An injury crisis that has led to Australia going through three full-backs in two Tests has seen him return, and he is charged with covering various positions in the backline.

Freddie Steward has enjoyed an excellent series so far. (Getty Images)
Freddie Steward has enjoyed an excellent series so far. (Getty Images)

Steward has looked to the manner born since breaking into the England side last year, and has had an excellent series.

Dave Porecki v Jamie George

These hookers are old Saracens team-mates. Debuting at 29, Porecki has taken the slow road to the top, while George is among England’s most-seasoned players.

With both second rows light on experience, the accuracy of the hookers at the lineout and their ability to direct traffic in the maul will be crucial. England need George, and Luke Cowan-Dickie when he comes off the bench, to be at their best around the park, too.

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