England v Australia predictions

Can England beat Australia at Twickenham tomorrow? I think they can, and here’s why.

A lot has been said about the leadership qualities of Steve Borthwick, but there’s no denying the fact that his team are at the top of the Guinness Premiership, and the England captain has been performing well in club colours.

He’s not the fastest lock in the loose, but he’ll do a job in the set-piece, and he could even be the hero if he can challenge the Australian lineout – Jonny kicking for territory and the English second rows demonstrating why they’ve been picked is a glorious thought.

The pack isn’t the most dynamic set of forwards that have ever donned the white shirt, and Lewis Moody and Tom Croft will need to lead by example in clearing out rucks and winning quick ball. With some good, fast possession, Wilko and Shane Geragthy can release an exciting back line.

Danny Hipkiss and Matt Banahan can run hard at the young Wallaby midfield and both are renowned for staying on their feet – if Cueto and Monye can pick their lines and time their run for an offload, England’s attacking game might just come to life. With the big Bath wing standing out wide, we might also see the odd cross-kick and he will certainly be favourite to claim those in the air.

Once again though, it all stems from the forwards, and there are a few big ‘ifs’ coming up. If our set piece performs well, securing our own ball and pinching a few opposition lineouts, we should see plenty of possession; if our back row inject some dynamism at the breakdown and make sure George Smith gets his hands nowhere near the ball, we should see some good quality possession; and if Jonny stands flat and releases his backs running at pace, then we should make good use of that possession and ask some questions of the opposition defence.

Australia will be nothing like a walkover, but it’s true that they aren’t at their best. Their backline is inexperienced and a lot will depend on Matt Giteau, but England have a great chance to kick off their Autumn campaign with a victory.

The squad has been plagued by injury, but they’ve been together now for a fortnight and the coaches have been in place for some considerable time, so they really ought to have a clear idea about how to play. If they take the game to Australia and recycle the ball quickly, they’ll win the match.

There are plenty of ifs and there’s a significant element of heart in my SportGuru prediction of England to win by 4. What do you think?

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