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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 9 May 2021


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Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning… we all know what we’re here for, but before the big one kicks off at 11.15, we have a seriously mouth-watering appetiser to tuck into.

It’s England v Australia, and it’s set to be as spiky as meetings between those two nations ever are. With Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika at the helm, it couldn’t be anything but.

Kick-off on ITV and eir Sport won’t be upon us until 8.15, so go get another half hour’s kip or sort out your breakfast before nestling into your spot in front of the TV for the morning and afternoon ahead.

Here are your teams for this morning’s clash between white and gold. Eddie Jones has benched George Ford in favour of a midfield furnished with the silky skills of Henry Slade.

Cheika has placed a massive amount of faith in Jordan Petaia, who didn’t travel with the Junior Wallabies for the summer’s U20 World Cup because he was busy playing Super Rugby.

The 19-year-old displaces former wunderkind James O’Connor in the centre. So both sides will have a delicious blend of power and lithe agility.


15. Elliot Daly
14. Anthony Watson
13. Henry Slade
12. Manu Tuilagi
11. Jonny May
10. Owen Farrell (captain)
9. Ben Youngs

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Maro Itoje
5. Courtney Lawes
6. Tom Curry
7. Sam Underhill
8. Billy Vunipola


16. Luke Cowan-Dickie
17. Joe Marler
18. Dan Cole
19. George Kruis
20. Lewis Ludlam
21. Willi Heinz
22. George Ford
23. Jonathan Joseph


15. Kurtley Beale
14. Reece Hodge
13. Jordan Petaia
12. Samu Kerevi
11. Marika Koroibete
10. Christian Lealiifano
9. Will Genia

1. Scott Sio
2. Tolu Latu
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Izack Rodda
5. Rory Arnold
6. David Pocock
7. Michael Hooper (captain)
8. Isi Naisarani


16. Jordan Uelese
17. James Slipper
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Adam Coleman
20. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
21. Nic White
22. Matt To’omua
23. James O’Connor

ITV conclude a link by saying Michael Cheika is sick of hearing that Australia have lost their last six meetings with England… and then proceed to say it twice more in the last two sentences before going to a break.

It will be very interesting so see what plan the former Leinster boss has concocted for this match.

japan-rugby-wcup-australia Source: Christophe Ena

The teams are out in Oita. Time for a moment’s silence as a reminder of the death and destruction wrought by Hagibis, followed by England’s national anthem.

Time for kick-off then, the bookies have England at about eight-point favourites. Personally, it’s tough to see the Wallabies getting that close. With the form and power in Eddie Jones’ side, I can see them winning by 15+.

a-rugby-fan-at-the-game Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Jordan Petaia shows up well to take in an early tester of a high ball.

The green and gold showing great pace in possession racing through 10 phases, including a half-break from Petaia and a big carry from Kerevi.

They’re in the England 22 and pressing…


England’s defence holds, Manu Tuilagi forcing a knock-on on the 19th phase of Wallaby possession.

Terrific start to the game, two solid minutes of open play.


Australia get a good few pats on the head of Kyle Sinckler after a scrum decision goes against him. Amazing how, with all the talk of detail, it can still come down to winding a lad up.


Sinckler ends the exchange fist-pumping in celebration as his pack force the clearing free kick.

It’s been all scrummaging since Australia’s early attack. And back they come now after winning the line-out in their own territory.

This time the attack ends with a rare Aussie kick. Genia hits for touch to leave England with a line-out.  They win and kick back to Australia. We have a very definite pattern heer.


Tolu Latu came very close to intercepting Youngs’ pass off a line-out move there. He wasn’t exactly going to run the length, but England not quite at their sharpest in attack.

A fumble then by Slade under pressure by Rory Arnold and Beale breaks free down the field. England scrambles well and get men back to cover a wide attack. The penalty comes Australia’s way for a high tackle.


Lovely strike fro Lealiifano, who had his struggles off the tee early in the tournament.

England hit back with venom off the restart, Sam Underhill gets a superb hit on Isi Naisarani to drive the number 8 back on his heels and force a scrum in the gold 22.


England attack wide right off the scrum and they threaten as they go back left.

They look set to crash over in the corner as Mako Vunipola is lined up for a carry, but he is absolutely lit up by a Scott Sio.

And once England are on the back foot, Pocock gets in over the ball and wins a clean turnover.


TRY!  England 5 Australia 3 (May ’18)


Sensational. Australia clear their lines after the Pocock turnover, but England send another wave right back at them and finish off a fine move with Farrell and Curry putting the ball through hands before May has space to dot down in the corner.

Farrell steps up and adds the extras.

England 7 Australia 3


Ah, lads. That is absolutely fantastic stuff – even if it is England.

Pocock coughs up the ball cheaply when Curry shapes to tackle him. Henry Slade makes the interception breaks away into the Australia half.

The Exeter star can tell he’s not winning a straight foot race to the try-line, but he hears Jonny May haring outside him and so puts the ball on his right foot, executing a superb through ball of a grubber kick which sits up perfectly for May to power onto en route to the corner.

England 14 Australia 3


PENALTY! England 14 Australia 6 (Lealiifano ’25)

The Wallabies have been thoroughly rocked by that May double-tap, but they’ve responded well enough, eking out a life-giving penalty.


PENALTY! England 17 Australia 6 (Farrell ’29)

There is a frenetic pace to this game, but England still look like they have a few extra gears they can go to when they need. From this position, they can hold the Wallabies at arm’s reach. 


ITV commentary describes Reece Hodge as “atomised” after he is hit and penalised for holding on. It was a good shot from Curry, a flanker, on a wing, but calm down lads.


The crowd, with some justification, boo as a replay shows Hooper up-ending Billy Vunipola with little control or care for how the big number 8 lands after the impact.


Two minutes to go in this half and it feels as though we’ve scrummed away too many of the 38 minutes so far.

The Wallabies win a penalty off Sinckler in the latest shove, Lealiifano will take a third shot on goal.


PENALTY! England 17 Australia 9 (Lealiifano ’40)

Flag 40Mins

HALF-TIME: England 17 Australia 9

The restart comes after the penalty and Australia are happy enough to get the ball off the field and go again with an eight-point deficit.


The second half is away and running.

Australia’s first spell in possession ends quickly as the white line advances hungrily in defence and forces the error.


What a start to the second half for the Wallabies.

They take advantage of that early line-speed from England with Reece Hodge floating a pass above defenders’ heads to put Petaia through a gap.

The 19-year-old shows excellent awareness to flick a pass back inside and Koroibete powers away to the corner.

England 17 Australia 16


TRY! England 24 Australia 16 (Sinckler ’45)

And again England respond!

Farrell whips a flat mid-range pass left to cut out a defender and the big tighthead storms through a gap and over the line despite the tackling effort of Beale.


PENALTY! England 27 Australia 16 (Farrell ’51)

And on the screw turns. 


Christian Lealiifano looks to be holding a rib as he is replaced by Matt Toomua.

The one-time Ulster playmaker bows to the crowd before he heads for the bench. A class act in so many ways.


That really annoying sound of English players glorying in their dominance is really coming through on the TV feed now. We heard it in the Six Nations opener, we hear it week-in, week-out with Saracens and it’s picking up volume at this World Cup.

It’s an extra flex Eddie Jones’ boys use to keep knocking an opponent’s confidence down.

It may not find immediate pay-off here, however, as Australia’s scrum hit back and allow them mount an attack on the England five-metre line…

The white wall holds out, Curry forces the turnover. And although Koroibete runs it back, the English roars can be heard again as they force a penalty.

Eddie Jones is sending on his finishers. Dan Cole is on for Sinckler, George Ford slots in at 10 with Slade departing the centre so Owen Farrell can steer the ship home from 12.

Ben Youngs tries to sneak around the corner after a powerful English maul, but it looks like he’s bounced the ball down.

Flag 65Mins

PENALTY! England 30 Australia 16 (Farrell ’65)

Youngs’ knock-on is confirmed, but the penalty advantage was coming for England, and so Farrell puts them two full scores ahead with 15 to play.


Mako Vunipola down getting treatment and he’s replaced by Joe Marler. It looks as though the Saracens loosehead just has a bit of a bloodied nose. I’d say he’ll be primed and ready for next Saturday’s semi-final in Yokohama.

But will it be against New Zealand, or Ireland?


PENALTY! England 33 Australia 16 (Farrell ’73)

Hilariously jubilant clap from Eddie Jones as his side force a penalty and rubber stamp this result with another flawless kick from the captain.


Australia have no option but to force it from their own 22 and Anthony Watson takes full advantage. The Bath wing picks out a long speculative looping pass from Beale and runs it to the house from 22 metres out.

Farrell just keeps on kicking goals.

England 40 Australia 16

Hell of a scoreline for a Rugby World Cup quarter-final.


Australia look like they’re putting a gloss on the final scoreline as Koroibete storms away to score. But we’re with the TMO to check.


Hilariously, the TMO Ben Skeen declares to Jerome Garces that there’s no issue with the passes. And as a clear forward pass is popped up the Kiwi continues imploring ‘it’s not clear’ to the ref.

Fortunately, the Frenchman continues to use his eyes and rules out the score.


FULL-TIME: England 40 Australia 16

England are going to Yokohama. And next up, Ireland and New Zealand do battle for the right to join them.

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Sean Farrell


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