Preview: Australia v England

Date published: June 24 2016

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The series is decided but Australian pride, and English history, are on the line at Allianz Stadium in Sydney this Saturday.

Eddie Jones has resisted the urge to make wholesale changes, with Teimana Harrison being the only new face in the starting line-up for the injured James Haskell, emphasising that just because the series is finished doesn't mean that England's work is done in Australia.

Five players however will return to England without any Test minutes under their belt – Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Alex Goode, Ben Te'o and Henry Slade – with their chances to impress limited to their work on the training field. For Test minutes they will have to wait until November.

Jones must have been tempted to experiment but the price of driving home England's dominance over Australia in this series is too much to resist, allowing Jones to settle his own scores as England continuie their revival.

Despite that remarkable defensive stand in Melbourne, England's head coach seemed far from satisfied with the proficency of England's attack.

A better surface than the AAMI Park shambles should certainly help England convert that set-piece dominance from the second Test into more attacking rugby akin to what we saw in the opener back at Suncorp after the introduction of George Ford.

Now though without one of their standout performers on this tour in Haskell, the key will be how England cope without his effectiveness in defence and at slowing Australia down at the breakdown.

Michael Cheika's side desperately need this win going into the Rugby Championship, and while Samu Kerevi is unlucky to miss out after not disgracing himself in his first two caps, with Matt Toomua back at the helm at inside centre the Wallabies look immediately stronger.

The more width Australia can play with the better as far as their chances go of pegging back a game in the series, and Toomua's extra distribution can make that happen.

Chances haven't been much of an issue for Australia but their finishing has been. The return of Toomua and faith in their systems can ease the frustration.

Cheika has spoken this week about this period being a character-building phase for the Wallabies after the feel-good ride to last year's Rugby World Cup final, and while his tone has been somewhat muted throughout the series compared to the barbs from Jones, his side need plenty of bite this weekend.

England arrived having only ever won three Tests against Australia down under. They could depart having surprisingly doubled that tally.

Players to Watch

For Australia: Making only his sixth start in 15 Tests for the Wallabies will be Will Skelton, the towering lock admired for his physicality. Skelton's extra power in the second row can help Australia settle down in the scrum after a torrid time in Melbourne, but it's the damage he can do off first and second phase with his straight runs that make him admired by coaches and supporters alike. Skelton was dropped by the Waratahs earlier this season but a return to club rugby looks to have given him the wake-up call he needed. He'll be kept busy up against Maro Itoje and George Kruis.

For England: Winning just a second cap puts Teimana Harrison under the spotlight but he comes into a forward pack full of confidence, with Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola producing some of their best rugby for their country. The New Zealand-born flanker went well on his Test debut at the end of May against Wales but this undoubtedly is a step up. Jack Clifford's greater experience has been passed over in order for Harrison to start and he can be expected to step up physically.

Head-to-head: Despite 18 carries and close to a hundred metres against England last weekend Israel Folau finished without a score to his name, continuing his run of having not scored in back-to-back Tests since the 2014 Rugby Championship. Throughout the series though he's looked sharp, having shaken off his early season rust.

Mike Brown's place looked under threat prior to the series from the newly crowned Premiership Player of the Year, Alex Goode, but Jones admires his character, so much so that he made him vice-captain and that leadership shone through when the tension rose in Melbourne. Brown will be called to do the same again, although with more productivity on attack similar to how he fared in the first Test.

Previous results: England have already wrapped this series up and are equipped to make it 3-0, but the Wallabies need this result more. Australia by five.

2016: England won 23-7 in Melbourne
2016: England won 39-28 in Brisbane
2015: Australia won 33-13 at Twickenham
2014: England won 26-17 at Twickenham
2013: England won 20-13 at Twickenham
2012: Australia won 20-14 at Twickenham
2010: England won 35-18 at Twickenham
2010: England won 21-20 in Sydney

Prediction: 

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Jack Clifford, 22 Danny Care, 23 Elliot Daly

Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20:00 local (10:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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