Rugby World Cup
Preview: England vs. Uruguay -- Lancaster loosens up as hosts bow out
Michael Beattie
October 9, 2015
Opportunities up for grabs in England squad

So here it is, the closing chapter of England's Rugby World Cup campaign. After a week of soul-searching following their pool stage exit, Stuart Lancaster sends out what may prove to be his last England selection to face Uruguay's band of plucky semi-professionals, who ended their 12-year wait for a World Cup try by crossing twice in the defeat against Fiji. Prior to that, head coach Pablo Lemoine had been the last Uruguayan to cross the line at a World Cup -- against England, in the 111-13 defeat in Brisbane in 2003. Then, a much-changed side that had already qualified for the knockouts went on to win the title; on Saturday, a much-changed side that has already been knocked out has some frustration to unbottle.

Team news 

Danny Care's 2011 World Cup was over before it began, thanks to a broken toe suffered less than a month before the squad left for New Zealand. The Harlequins scrum-half is one of four World Cup debutants in England's experimental back line alongside wing Jack Nowell, outside-centre Henry Slade and fullback Alex Goode, with Jamie George hoping to win his first World Cup cap off the bench. Lancaster has made eight changes in total to his starting line-up, restoring George Ford at fly-half and giving starts to Mako Vunipola at loosehead, James Haskell on the blindside and late squad addition Nick Easter at No. 8.

Boosted by the news that scrum-half Agustin Ormaechea had been cleared to face England after his red card against Fiji, Uruguay's Lemoine has made just two changes from the side that scored two tries in the 47-15 defeat at Stadium MK. Felipe Berchesi replaces Alejo Durán at fly-half and Mateo Sanguinetti is called in for Alejo Corral at loose-head prop.

England

Alex Goode, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Danny Care; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw (captain), Nick Easter.

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, David Wilson, George Kruis, Tom Wood, Richard Wigglesworth, Jonathan Joseph, Mike Brown.

Uruguay

Gaston Mieres, Santiago Gibernau, Joaquin Prada, Andres Vilaseca, Rodrigo Silva, Felipe Berchesi, Agustin Ormaechea; Mateo Sanguinetti, Carlos Arboleya, Mario Sagario, Santiago Vilaseca (captain), Jorge Zerbino, Juan Manuel Gaminara, Matias Beer, Alejandro Nieto.

Replacements: Nicolas Klappenbach, Oscar Duran, Alejo Corral, Mathias Palomeque, Diego Magno, Agustin Alonso, Alejo Duran, Manuel Blengio.

Key head-to-head

The Ormaechea-Berchesi half-back axis that impressed in the win over an Argentina XV prior to the World Cup will be crucial for Uruguay when they do secure possession. The No.9 can snipe, as he did to score their second try against Fiji, and the No.10 can kick should England cough up penalties. As keen as Care will be to play at tempo and release the fliers behind him, he will have to be disciplined in defence.

© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Key stats

* England's 111-13 win at the 2003 World Cup is their only previous meeting with Uruguay. Fullback Josh Lewsey scored five of England's 17 tries en route to their biggest World Cup win, surpassing the 101-10 win against Tonga at Twickenham in 1999.

* England are playing in Manchester for just the third time in the past 20 years: they lost 25-8 to the All Blacks in November 1997 and beat Argentina 37-15 in June 2009, both at Old Trafford. This is not the first rugby action at the Manchester City Stadium, however - the venue hosted the Commonwealth Games Sevens competition in 2002, won by New Zealand.

* Alejo Corral will make his 50th Test appearance for Uruguay should he come off the bench, while Manuel Blengio, the only player in Uruguay's squad who has not yet played at this Rugby World Cup 2015, is also among the replacements.

Odds

With betting on the result all but irrelevant - though don't bet on England breaking the century barrier once more against a much-improved Uruguay side - it's tough to find value, but picking England's try-scorers offers some returns. Anthony Watson is 2/13 to score anytime with Unibet but 9/2 to grab the first try of the match, and 5/1 to score the last. Also in the hunt for that first score: George Ford 7/1, Mako Vunipola 16/1 and Dan Cole, the longest shot in the starting line-up, at 40/1.

Weather

An outside chance of rain aside, cool conditions under the floodlights should be perfect for the only World Cup fixture in Manchester.

Prediction

After what has no doubt been an uncomfortable week in the England camp, expect some pent-up frustration to be released in Manchester. Lancaster's back line is packed with talented footballers who will be keen to showcase their talents, as much with one eye on England's forthcoming rebuilding phase as for the fans. The hosts will win, and win comfortably, though don't rule out the odd Uruguay breakaway -- and the occasional case of handbags, if the South Americans' indiscipline against Fiji is anything to go by. England by 50 -- and that may prove conservative.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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