The daily tournament preview packs down with Rugby World Cup tips for a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown between old enemies England and Australia.
18:15 (AEDT), Sat 19th Oct @ Oita Bank Dome, Oita
History: Played 50: Australia 25 V England 24 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: November 24, 2018: England 37 d Australia 18 at Twickenham
Final thoughts: The first 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final pits bitter rivals England and Australia against one another. In a showdown dripping with storylines, opposing coaches Eddie Jones – the former-Wallabies-turned-England mentor – and Michael Cheika have been front and centre.
We’re yet to get a true gauge on England, one of the pre-tournament favourites. They were impressive in disposing of Tonga 35-3 and USA 45-7 in their opening assignments. But an early red card ruined Argentina’s chances as England ran out easy 39-10 winners, before their marquee clash with France was cancelled .
Jones publicly sold the washout as a positive for England, but not having played for two weeks has to be a concern.
The jury is still very much out on the Wallabies as even a fringe contender. The green-and-golds surged late to beat Fiji 39-21, staged a good comeback in a 29-25 loss to Wales, and comfortably – if unimpressively – accounted for group minnows Uruguay (45-10) and Georgia (27-8).
Big shocks at the selection table
Cheika has struggled to settle on a first-choice line-up all year and he has rolled the dice ahead of the quarter-final. After two appearances on the wing, 19-year-old Jordan Petaia is one of the all-time Rugby World Cup bolters at centre. Christian Lealiifano and Will Genia will start in the halves. James O’Connor could play a key role off the bench.
Jones has sprung his own surprise by dropping George Ford and restoring captain Owen Farrell to the No.10. Henry Slade comes in a centre, with strike weapon Manu Tuilagi moving to the No.12 spot.
Since Australia’s 33-13 group-stage blowout in 2015, England has dominated this heated rivalry. England has won the last six straight Anglo-Australian Tests – including the last three by 16-plus margins. Owen Farrell racked up 22 points in last year’s 37-18 thrashing in London.
The nations have a rich Rugby World Cup history, with the ledger square at 3-3. England won narrow quarter-finals in 1995 and 2007 either side of their epic victory in the 2003 final.
The Wallabies’ best is certainly enough to trouble – and beat – an England side that may have had their rhythm disrupted. Whether the constantly-changing Australian line-up can produce what they’re capable of is another story. But with the last four Rugby World Cup knockout clashes between the nations decided by six points or less, the underdogs look the best bet against a sizeable line.