The revolution under Eddie Jones is almost complete. First a Grand Slam and now a series win in Australia. All that is left is to whitewash the Wallabies on Saturday morning and conquer the almighty All Blacks. The All Blacks will have to wait until 2018, when they’re next scheduled to play England, however a 3-0 series victory over an Australian side that embarrassed England last autumn is much more likely.
England’s victory in Melbourne last week was one for the purists, rather than those who enjoy free flowing, attacking rugby. England managed just 28% possession and made three times as many tackles as Australia, but managed to win by 14 points. The victory hasn’t been lost across the Tasman, with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen suggesting that Jones has been able to bully his Australian counterpart Michael Cheika into submission via the media. James Haskell, England’s man of the series so far, is set to miss the final match of the series through injury, with New Zealand born Teimana Harrison coming in as his replacement. One man who will be starting for England though is Maro Itoje. The man has made himself a first choice pick, despite his tender age of 22 and the fact that he’s only won 6 caps. Itoje hasn’t lost a game for club or country in over a year and he’s tipped to be a once in a generation player. England are fortunate to have him and he looks to be a certainty for the British Lions tour next summer.
The Wallabies come into this game in very different spirits to the English. Two losses in two games, with the second one seeing them camped in the English 22, but unable to capitalise on any territorial position because of the English line speed. Matt Toomua is set to return to the centres after recovering from a knee injury, whilst Cheika is also set to pick the man mountain that is Will Skelton, in an attempt to match England’s physicality. Toomua will give them more width in attack that wasn’t there when Kerevi played and he looks to be the likely inheritor to Matt Giteau’s shirt in the future.
What do the odds say?
Just like the Australian media, who’ve been strangely silent this week, the odds are starting to respect England’s ability. England were priced as underdogs for both of the previous two matches, but are now favourites for this one, with NetBet pricing them at 5/6 to win on Saturday morning. Meanwhile Australia are priced at 20/21.