Watch England V Australia Rugby

Thursday, October 31, 2019 12:49:47 AM

There could hardly be a more fitting game to kick off proceedings in the quarterfinals and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to suggest the rivalry between the two has defined the tournament's history. Those memories aren't limited to the final act either.

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Four years ago the Wallabies knocked England out in the pool stages of their own World Cup with a crushing success. But while plenty of players in both camps have stayed the same and Michael Cheika is still in charge of the Green and Golds, the balance of power in this rivalry looks to have shifted back to the northern hemisphere.

England v Australia score recap from the Rugby World Cup quarter

England have won all six meetings since that Twickenham shakedown, including all three Tests in Australia in , and they have scored 30 points or more in five of these games They are unlikely to be complacent either as plenty of the matches have been hard-fought and far from one-way traffic whatever the final scoreline.

There has not been seven or more points between the sides at the break and the bounce of the ball and big refereeing decisions have gone their way at key moments.

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England also appear more settled in the half-backs. Cheika is still chopping and changing between Will Genia and Nic White at scrum-half and examining his fly-half options with driving force Bernard Foley out of favour.

On this occasion, Jones has plumped for Farrell and put Ford on the bench but it is purely a game-management tactical decision.

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Ford has shone at this tournament and is likely to be called upon in the second half once there is more time for him to put runners into gaps. Samu Kerevi continues to do sterling work for the Wallabies in the midfield but he has a new partner in teenage sensation Jordan Petaia so the return to fitness and form of Manu Tuilagi gives England the edge in the centres.

And in the back three, Jones is purring with pleasure at his pacy options — he has gone with Anthony Watson and Jonny May on the wings and Elliot Daly at full-back — whereas Cheika is still seemingly struggling to fill the void left by the absence of Israel Folau.

England may be a bit tardy out of the blocks after two weeks off because of the cancellation of their final Pool C game with France but Australia have struggled for fluency and discipline in the first half of all their games at this World Cup so it is unlikely to prove a telling factor.

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England took their time when beating Tonga in their opener and stuck to designated tactics for much of their strolls against the USA and Argentina when it would have been easy to get loose and sloppy. Even when in the doldrums last year, England showed up well in a series defeat in South Africa and a reverse to the All Blacks at Twickenham.

However, while he is a proud Aussie, coaching mastermind Jones would love nothing more than to set a new positive trend. His team seem to be back near the mental and physical shape of and early when they won 17 games on the spin before narrow defeat in Dublin going for back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.

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