Saturday, November 12, 2005

England 26 Australia 16

Well my call about the England front five besting the Australians turned out to be an understatement, as Andrew Sheridan et al mashed the Aussies all the way to the embarrasment of uncontested scrums.

Sadly, the backs failed to capitalise on this tremendous platform, and it took a 75th minute try by the impressive Mark Cueto to seal a game that we should have killed off in the first half. We need more creativity in the backs - given Tindall at 12, I would be tempted to replace fellow banger Jamie Noon with the gliding Ollie Smith at 13. I hope Hodgson's injury is minor - he looked increasingly assured until he went off. Fantastic to see Big Ben Cohen back to form - that back three of Cueto, Cohen, Lewsey is as strong in defence as it is potent coming forwards.

All Blacks next week, and right now they're in a different league to everyone else. I haven't heard who the referee is - hoping for a Northern hemisphere ref who will allow us to push the Kiwis around at scrum time should we gain an advantage, but their pack is a totally different proposition to Australia. Chris Jack and Ali Williams are at least as good at set-piece as Borthwick and Grewcock, and considerably better in the loose, and Richie McCaw is a step up even from the ever impressive George Smith - not sure Sanderson/Moody will get close. I'll be looking for solid first phase on our own possession, and good defence, but generally I'll be happy if we can keep them under two tries per half.

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