Australian Barbarians v England, Gosford, June 15
England out to secure momentum
June 14, 2010
England and the Australian Barbarians will resume hostilities on Tuesday © Getty Images
England's third game on their Australian tour took on added significance on Saturday when the Test side were dispatched 27-17 by the Wallabies, leaving the dirt-trackers to restore some momentum against the Australian Barbarians in Gosford on Tuesday.
After playing out a 28-28 stalemate last week, the Barbarians and England will have some individual scores to settle, while the dangling carrot of Test selection remains a factor. In the first Test at the Subiaco Oval in Perth last weekend the crowd was treated to a Jekyll and Hyde game, where England decimated the Australian scrum to win two penalty tries while the Aussie backs carved up Martin Johnson's leaden backline at will to score three excellent five-pointers.
Returning to action after injury for the Barbarians is Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who could influence Saturday's selection by proving his fitness. Either side of him there are starts for Pek Cowan and Laurie Weeks, with early speculation suggesting that tight-head is where the cuts will be made for the weekend. Reds youngster James Slipper starts from the bench and is favourite to be elevated into the Test XV.
Kurtley Beale starts at fly-half for the Barbarians after a season spent at fullback for the Waratahs, with Peter Hynes wearing No.15 after James O'Connor, scorer of a hat-trick in last week's tour game, was elevated to the Test side. O'Connor and Berrick Barnes start on the bench this week.
The England midweek side has a different feel, with David Strettle and centre Dominic Waldouck making their first starts of the tour to add some cut and thrust. Joe Worsley replaces Chris Robshaw as blindside and skipper and is joined in the back-row by Stade's James Haskell, at No.8.
Dan Ward-Smith moves from the base of the scrum to the second-row while up front Paul Doran-Jones and Newcastle's Jon Golding are drafted in. Dave Attwood will partner Ward-Smith in the engine room after getting two stamping charges thrown out on a technicality. His opposite number, Mitch Chapman, required 17 stitches after the second incident and will again start for the Barbarians. Richard Wigglesworth and Charlie Hodgson are the halfbacks while Olly Barkley starts at No.12.
England scrummaging coach Graham Rowntree has this week insisted that his side are desperate for a 'breakthrough' as they continue to fight against a tide of criticism. His midweek team can lay a few building blocks for the full side on Tuesday as they regroup and look to fully exploit the Wallabies' deficiencies.
"I have got every faith in him," he said. "He is a mate and I trust him. I trust his rugby knowledge. He is good with people. He is the right man for the job.
"He gets a couple of wins under his belt and everyone will be saying the same. We can't hide from the fact we are not getting those wins but we can't stop trying. I can't think of the last occasion that a team scored two penalty tries and lost. How do you think we feel? We had a chance there with all their injuries. We are gutted.
"I believe we are still progressing. That team that won the World Cup in 2003 was not perfect for a long time. You ask Jonny Wilkinson when the switch was flicked that made England a World Cup-winning team - it was winning in Wellington, winning in Melbourne and at Lansdowne Road a few months earlier. We are desperate for that win."
Australian Barbarians: P Hynes (Queensland Reds); N Cummins (Western Force), W Chambers (Queensland Reds), A Faingaa (Queensland Reds), L Turner (NSW Waratahs); K Beale (NSW Waratahs), J Valentine (ACT Brumbies); P Cowan (Western Force), T Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), L Weeks (Queensland Reds), M Chapman (ACT Brumbies), R Simmons (Queensland Reds), B McCalman (Western Force), Pat McCutcheon (University/Waratahs), S Hoiles (ACT Brumbies)
Replacements: H Edmonds (ACT Brumbies), J Slipper (Queensland Reds), Mark Chisholm (ACT Brumbies), Matt Hodgson (Western Force), Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs), Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs), James O'Connor (Western Force)
England: D Armitage (London Irish); D Strettle (Harlequins), D Waldouck (Wasps), O Barkley (Bath), M Banahan (Bath); C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), R Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks); J Golding (Newcastle), L Mears (Bath), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Attwood (Gloucester), D Ward-Smith (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps, capt), S Armitage (London Irish), J Haskell (Stade Francais).
Replacements: R Webber (Wasps), D Flatman (Bath), C Robshaw (Harlequins), P Dowson (Northampton), P Hodgson (London Irish), S Geraghty (Northampton), M Tait (Sale Sharks)