So what does this result mean for the Wallabies, who will definitely meet Wales and probably England in the early stages of the World Cup? Unfortunately, despite the scoreline, there’s probably not too much you can take for the Welsh match-up as they were missing at least five big names and will no doubt get their tails up with a vocal crowd behind them in Cardiff. Thrashings like this won’t help their confidence or momentum though.
The bigger message out of this match came from England. They have unashamedly shown their 10-man World Cup game plan, and like it or not, it’s the right one for them. This pack can stand toe to toe, if not dominate, any other and as long as Wilkinson is fit, his boot will punish all comers. Those memories of Baxter and Dunning capitulating to uncontested scrums two years ago could easily pay an unwelcome visit again. The England eight on Saturday was 4 stones heavier (at 144 stones) than the one that won the world cup — Australia this year have been around 136 stone.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media and blogs like this one about the Wallabies getting the ‘easier’ quarter final against England, which avoids South Africa, setting up a show down with the All Blacks in the semi. From what we saw on Saturday, if England continue to acknowledge their weaknesses and play to their strengths, there is going to be one very big banana skin, if not a brick wall, in the Wallabies’ path.
Here’s what Knuckles had to say about it yesterday:
“If we get through to play South Africa in the quarter-finals, I am not convinced that South Africa are the ones … South Africa may be the ones we want to play,” Connolly said. “England at that time of year, up there, will be a handful.”
England’s game after the next one — in Marseilles against the French — will show us just what sort of a trap lies in waiting.
A fuller version of this article first appeared on TheRoar