Match Preview: Australia v England 3rd Test - Green and Gold Rugby

Match Preview: Australia v England 3rd Test

Match Preview: Australia v England 3rd Test

England clinched the series in Melbourne last Saturday but the show must go on with the final match of the series to be played out in Sydney. Pride is on the line for Australia, while the tourists will be keen demoralise their hosts with a clean sweep.


Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

Tevita Kuridrani swamped. Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

The Wallabies have made a few of changes to their starting line up with locking duo Sam Carter and Rory Arnold dropped from the twenty three. Rob Simmons regains his starting spot from the first test and large human Will Skelton joins him in the second row, his first taste of test rugby this year. Carter and Arnold both played their roles reasonably well in Melbourne, although, like much of Australia’s team, they didn’t nail down their positions either.

In the backs, rookie centre Samu Kerevi has been left out of the match day squad and has been replaced by Matt Toomua in the twelve jersey having returned from injury. Kerevi would feel a little hard done by as he was something of a rare success story for the Wallabies in the last two tests. Cheika’s decision is most likely based on wanting his twelve to be a second playmaker, something Toomua is more able to provide.

The bench reveals four changes, showing a bias a towards bulk. Loose head Scott Sio earns a chance to redeem himself after being dropped following the first test in Brisbane. Powerhouse winger Taqele Naiyaravoro gets a chance to earn his second Wallaby cap while towering Force lock Adam Coleman has an opportunity to become the first Tasmanian to play for the Wallabies (professional era). The other change is veteran number eight Wycliff Palu. Palu had a great hit out against the Chiefs heading into the international break, so can hopefully bring that form.


England celebrate Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

England celebrate Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

England has made one change to their squad. Ex-Kiwi Teimana Harrison is set to start a test match for the first time in place of the injured James Haskell. Marland Yarde was slated to replace Jack Nowell although the winger has overcome a mild concussion.

England’s bench remains the same.

England will miss Haskell, but their dominance has been based around teamwork rather than individual brilliance so I don’t think they lose too much.

Key Matchups

Skelton vs Itoje

Maro Itoje grapples with Sam Carter

Maro Itoje grapples with Sam Carter


This is a bit of a mis-match, Maro Itoje is shaping himself as the world’s premier lock. Tall, athletic and skillful he’s the full package, only lacking John Eales goal kicking prowess, but nobody’s perfect.

Debuting against France, Will Skelton looked like a man amongst boys, such was his size and surprising skill. Two years later, however, he has failed to be consistently more than a flat track bully. Skelton’s last match in gold was against Uruguay during the world cup, where he injured his shoulder.

This will be a great opportunity for Skelton to regain a footing in the Wallaby camp. If he can realise some of his potential and compete admirably against the class of Itoje, he’s sure to go up the pecking order.

What this matchup is really about though is watching two enormous humans collide each other, that’s something worth paying to see.

Farrell & Ford vs Foley & Toomua

Bernard Foley's individual effort was disallowed for obstruction

Can Bernard Foley excite again?

George Ford and Owen Farrell are gelling nicely, both making the most of limited opportunities to contribute in attack. The opposite could be said of Foley, who had plenty of cracks at England’s line without unlocking it.

This week Cheika has drafted in playmaker Matt Toomua to partner with Foley. As Toomua is more able to act as a second distributer he might be the missing ingredient needed to spark Australia’s somewhat predictable attack. My only concern is that Matt is returning from injury to play test rugby, which would seem a bit of a risk.

Farrell and Ford are clearly the better kicking duo, they were both great from hand in Melbourne and Owen was robotic as ever from the tee. Foley may be more dangerous with Toomua to use as his foil, but you feel that England’s inside pairing is only getting better. Whoever looks the best out of this matchup, will almost certainly be the victors.


We know how both teams will play this fixture. England will likely dominate the set piece, both scrum and lineout, the latter enhanced by Australia’s inclusion of non jumping lock Will Skelton. Australia will try to out work and work out England, stretching the defense, looking for a mismatch. England’s is the safer and better executed of the styles, while Australia’s is potentially more rewarding.

This match will rest largely on the morale of both camps. Are the Aussies damaged, feeling humiliated? Or are they fired up and thirsty for revenge? Have the English already checked their bags and started thinking about the off season, job done? Or has Eddie kept them craving a three-nil result to feel satisfied?

While any result is on the cards here, I think Australia might just want this more. The last two matches have required mammoth efforts from the English, if the Australians can demand another eighty minutes of the visitors, cracks might show. It will be tough though.

Australia by 2


Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.

Reserves: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Wycliff Palu , 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.

Reserves: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Jack Clifford, 22 Danny Care, 23 Elliot Daly.

Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.00 AEST (11.00 UK time; 10.00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

  • mark conley

    Jones, “you knew he was going to put his body on the line”… “He was a great player for Australia…. If Australia had more like him it wouldn’t be 2-0.”

    • Seb V


      • mark conley

        goodaye Seb, Jones was commenting about a former Wallaby, name slips me (short term memory loss) but it was a barb at the present Wallabies, hopefully this will get them psyched

  • mark conley

    If memory serves me well Foley cracked the line several times, trouble was no NZ like trailers to carry on, no?

    • first time long time

      Problem is Foley doesn’t seem to direct the play well.
      He should be able to see that there are 15 defenders spread across the field and tell the forwards he doesn’t want and for them to drive up the guts.
      Then call for it when some defenders have been committed, not just blindly run the ball or kick aimlessly.
      I thought he was the “iceman”? He has been looking very rattled for mine.
      And with Phipps as your halfback, who needs enemies?

  • mark conley

    Can England replicate last weeks defensive effort? Farrell hasn’t been dropped! Still got lightweight McMahon, England to again dominate Aust pack, can England hold Aust backs?

  • Pat Garnham

    Coleman is actually the third Tasmanian born Wallaby (if he gets his chance on saturday). First in the professional era dna first who played his junior rugby in Tassir though

    • Brisneyland Local

      First Taswegian to pull on the Green and Gold since 1932!
      Go the Maps!!!!!!

  • idiot savant

    I didnt think Cheik could get by without his Mumm

    • This I don’t understand. What does he bring?

      • mark conley


      • USARugger

        Well you see he’s a mediocre 6 as well as lock so he’s able to be not very good at multiple positions, thus providing flexibility off the bench

      • idiot savant

        Mum deodorant used to have an ad campaign with random people saying “I cant get by without my Mum”. The idea was that Mum was reliable and wouldnt let you down! So it was a poor attempt at humour and to perhaps use those ideas facetiously. See, no joke works when you have to explain it. Sigh. Back to the drawing board…

        • RedAnt

          I think Sully understood the joke, but not Cheika’s continuing selection of Mumm!

  • Chris Bennett

    Nowell is playing unless there have been new developments

  • Gegonago

    “non jumping lock Will Skelton”

    that pretty much says it all

    • Non jumping locks can also lift. Simmons, Hooper or McMahon lifted by Skelton sounds good to me.

      • brumby runner

        Sounds good, but I’ll bet you don’t see it much in the game. On our throw, Skelton will either be at 2 in the lineout or second receiver in the backline. No matter how we might want to spin it, a lineout with Will Skelton and two jumpers will be deficient in winning the ball.

  • adastra32

    “A few changes”? I count three in the starting 15 and three in the reserve 8. Just over a quarter of the personnel. Ford and Farrell played 10 and 12 in the U20s team so it’s probably more like a re-gelling…..that started a season ago.

    • Pedro

      If you read the entire sentence it reads:
      “The Wallabies have made a few of changes to their starting line up…”

      Also, you might also note that there are four changes to the wallaby bench, not three.

      Re-gelling sounds like what Owen Farrell does to his hair at half time.

      • adastra32

        Thanks Pedro. If it all works out for the G&G, a perceptive intervention.

      • adastra32

        You were saying?

        • Pedro

          I’ve already written it twice for you, what is your issue?

        • adastra32


        • Pedro


  • RobC

    Thanks Peter. Aussie by 2?

    Meaning that Farrell will miss a conversation, and Foley will not? ;)

    • Pedro

      Four penalties to two unconverted tries?

      • RobC

        I like that!

      • Joy

        Australia 4 unconverted tries
        England 6 penalties

  • Melvin

    TBH, I don’t think they’ve got the spirit. They’ll be feeling the former and won’t have the ticker to win. I hate this, but England by 12. :(

  • willie anderson

    Tall??? You know Itoje is 193cms don’t you?
    If he was Aussie everyone on here would say he was too small. We have locks at 196cms and many think they’re too small.

    • Chris Bennett

      I think quite a few people (like me) genuinely thought Itoje might be too short to be a top lock – and possibly too big to be a top 6. We were wrong…

      • willie anderson

        With respect. 110kgs? Please!
        My point is we can be too focused in Aus on size and not how productive our locks are. We’ll see soon.

        • Pedro

          Coming from the man who took issue with a 6’5″ (according to Saracens) player being described as tall? Please indeed.

    • Train Without A Station

      In fairness like Natunui in the AFL, Itoge has the extraordinary vertical leap that makes up for any shortcomings in his height. I think he has a good wingspan too which makes up for it also.

  • Roy Reeve

    Interesting test it’s the “Battle of the Fullbacks!” for me. IF You / the Aussies can firstly have parity in the Scrum then isolate England fullback Mike Brown who has for me been out of form for 2 years & get SuPeRsTaR Israel Folau to double the amount of his touches on the ball you WIN by 10 pts! Or England will nick it in a tight game.

    • Brown seems like a twat. Do you guys think that too?

  • NoJustice

    “This match will rest largely on the morale of both camps.”

    Don’t agree. This match will rest largely on one thing: can the Wallabies play with more smarts than they did last week? When you have 70% possession in the second half and fail to score a single try there are generally only two explanations: either you don’t have the cattle to do the business or something is seriously wrong with your gameplan. You can’t do much about the first, but a good coach should be able to sort out the second.
    The other thing the Wallabies need to sort out is their discipline. It’s fine to come out breathing smoke and fire but the aggression has to be controlled, otherwise you’re just charging around stupidly giving away mindless penalties (see Moore and Kepu). As ex-All Black Grant Fox used to say: “Fire in the belly but ice in the head.”
    I wonder about Michael Cheika’s temperament sometimes. Seeing him ranting and raving at his troops at halftime was surprising. The score was still close (7-10) and the Wallabies had just scored a good try and then hammered on the English line for 20 phases. It seems to me that a few quiet words about getting a bit more variety into the attack would have served more purpose than having a scream at the boys.
    Here’s a question: why is Moore the captain if he never plays a full game? He’s consistently been pulled off in the last 20 or so for TPN. This makes no sense to me. Your captain should set the tone both for the team and for dealing with the referee and this should last for the whole 80 minutes. To take that voice and influence away at the most crucial time of the game (last 20 minutes) is something I struggle to understand. I bet that a bunch of games that the ABs won in the last five or ten minutes would not have been won if McCaw had been sitting on the sidelines. Leave Moore there for the full 80. If he’s only going to play 60 minutes then he shouldn’t be the captain.
    (Like last week) I’ll be hoping the Wallabies win this weekend. But I’m not convinced that Skelton will bring anything much to the Wallabies (except take away a lineout jumper).

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well hopefully here the Wallabies can pull a rabbit out of there hat. I hope Skelton has been getting flogged by the strength and conditioning coaches. Because he is not fit enough for Super 15, there is no way he will be fit enough for this slugfest. Personally I would have taken Horwill in and bought Skelton of the bench to slam hard for the last 20-30 mins (conveniently this is about his fitness duration too ). Big Kev knows the pommy players better than any of the current squad, he also shows a degree of leadership and common sense, which seems evidently lacking at the present.
    Phipps and Foley, wow have they been given a few chances. If they screw the pooch tonight, I would think that that would be the end of their Wallaby careers! I think Cheik’s will be looking at some of his overseas players to sort this 9-10 shit fight out. I am also sure Cheiks would give his Kingdom to have a kicker that can kick 85%-90% consistently.
    I don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this game. And I don’t think my plasterboard walls will tolerate any more German beer bottles (*For Bobas; it is a WiehanStephaner Pilsner this week).

    • first time long time

      I was thinking today that with to more games off the bench last year Cooper would have at least been in the mix for this series/RC.

      Not sure I agree that we need a second play maker at 12 when Kerevi was playing very well.
      The problem is a malfunctioning primary play maker at 10 and a 9 who is playing rubbish.
      If they come good we are a chance, if they play like last week… goodnight sweetheart

      • jamie

        Cooper isn’t eligible at the moment unfortunately.

        • first time long time

          Yeah thats what I mean.
          It was silly not to get him to 60 caps last year and leave him stranded on 58 I think. Especially given we apparently have no other option at 10 or Foley would be out on his arse for this week until he started performing again.

        • Wendy Wills

          I could be wrong but I think Quade is on his way home. There is talk of him negotiating a new contract with the ARU and a number of Super 15 franchises. Toulon played their final last night, so Quade is now free to return to Australia as he is not continuing with Toulon next year. Would love to see him back here asap, regardless of which franchise he plays with!!

  • Joy

    I just don’t get all the pessimism surrounding Skelton’s lineout contribution. He usually gets one or two throws a game and I can’t remember him ever losing one.

    Lineout wins – two test average for current tour

    Carter 2.5
    McHooper 2.0
    Mumm 2.0
    Arnold 1.5
    Fardy 1.5
    Horwill 1.0
    Simmons 0.0

    He doesn’t have much to beat and could rise to top of the pops in just one test.
    (In these tests you could have played Skelton and his brother and still done OK in the lineouts.)

  • Fatflanker

    There really hasn’t been much between these teams. I think the scorelines have probably flattered England a bit courtesy of some fairly opportunistic tries against the run of play, outright stupidity/lack of discipline from Oz, and, yes, a few not-great refereeing decisions.

    This is not to downplay the Herculean defensive effort from England last week nor the areas where they do hold a distinct advantage. In the balance England have deserved their wins (and good luck to them too) but I don’t buy the old cliche being trotted out that it has been all about English dominance in the forwards – most the statistics just don’t support that at all.

    I may be eating my words again tomorrow but I’m optimistic of a good win to Oz tonight. The Wallabies have been sucked into playing some dumb rugby – I can’t see that happening three weeks in a row.

  • Mike Thompson

    In terms of score, I can see either a narrow English win (3?) or a 20 win to the Wallabies. Oddly, I see less chance of a result in the middle of that range, and more chance of a result on either end.

    • first time long time

      Strangely enough….. you could sub Australia for England and All Blacks for Wallabies and thats how I feel about just about every Bledisloe match

  • Kokonutcreme

    Ever since their first test defeat, Wallaby selections appear to be reactive to counter England’s strengths and dare I say it – panicked.

    There were so many good things to build upon from the first test, despite the loss. The Wallaby ball movement and manipulation of space created 3 tries and another try scoring opportunity that was disallowed. That shouldn’t be overlooked or discounted in the wake of their disappointment in losing the series.

    In the 1st test they were creating opportunities but suffered from a high error rate and poor discipline. In the 2nd test they won a mountain of possession against a team content to concede that advantage but again suffered a high error rate, poor discipline as well as no creativity on attack.

    If the Wallabies focus on creating opportunities from the first test, reducing their error rate and improving their discipline, they’ll starve England of a primary source of pointscoring and they’ll be forced to play wider which will suit the Wallabies better.

    England aren’t as narrow in attack as their stereotyped reputation precedes them, and they have speed weapons out wide to hurt the Wallabies. But we’ve yet to see them execute a flowing backline move from a set piece attack, most of the line breaks have stemmed from individual ability rather than space being created from players inside.

    Hooper and Moore have been guilty of losing their composure this series, Skelton, Palu and Kepu are also prone to moments of red mist mistaken as aggression. Lets hope that they channel it in the right areas and stay onside of referee Nigel Owens who won’t tolerate any funny business.

  • aushog

    Why Phipps
    Australia playing that schoolboy style northern hemisphere rugby slow it down let the opposition get back into place and try and run over the top of them stupid rugby. Speed it up Phipps; let’s play southern hemisphere Rugby, and how about a pass on the chest for a change reaching all the time slowing our players down how much have you been paid to support the Poms. Bad choice again.

  • mark conley

    Again i can’t see Aust winning; Farrell, English forwards, Kerevi out; Simmons, McMahon, not adequate; why isn’t TPN starting with Moore on the bench?

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  • wilful

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  • Pedro


  • Mitch T Gray

    You’re right, I was being a ‘c*#t’. I apologise. I’m in a bad mood for some reason…

  • ForceFan

    But can we afford the Yellow Card?

  • Last week Australia targetted Itoje at breakdown and lineout lots of off the ball stuff – it had almost zero impact other than for him to lose his scrum cap. The lad has been kicked from one end of the UK to the other in the last season and he’s just laughed it off.

    Roughing him up will do nothing for Australias cause, in fact the complete opposite as we saw last week.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Yep as long as it is Skelton! He doesn’t make that much of a difference anyway so him being off for ten will have a negligible effect.

  • Keith Butler

    Or a red. Skelton the most over rated lock in super rugby.

  • first time long time

    Great tackler…. if someone is dumb enough to run into him
    Also ok at breakdown….. when it comes to him
    Lineout…. all filler now killer
    Scrum….. powder puff
    Running the ball….. no more impact than guys 2/3 his size
    Penalty machine.

    Silky smooth lovely soft hands though!

  • mark conley

    Goodaye Missing, I did watch last week’s match and I have seen him play before; I know a lot of sayings, doesn’t mean they’re believable; I, along with lots of others, don’t believe his up to it against the beast backthree of England; happy to be proven wrong but my pocket is in front after the first two; couldn’t believe Aust was favourite for those two and unless England suffer a psychological low can’t see Aust winning, all the best, just my opinion, mark

  • mark conley

    Definitely, and Simmons started very un-Simmons like; obviously need to drop him every 2nd match; liked the look of Coleman; should Aust have had a few lead up matches? looks like England were match / team sharp all series;


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