Preview: England v Fiji

Date published: November 18 2016

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England will hope to make it 12 successive wins on Saturday when they welcome Fiji to Twickenham for their second November international.

It’s ten straight under Eddie Jones but eleven wins in total as they continued to impress with their most recent win, at home against South Africa.

A good victory over the Fijians coupled by New Zealand slipping up in Dublin would be music to the ears of Jones before Australia arrive.

Despite a handful of changes, Jones is clearly not taking this Fijian side lightly as he waited until Friday to announce his squad, thus giving Billy Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Nathan Hughes time to recover. He was surely wise to do that as Vunipola has been in sparkling form.

Questions do arise though with the decision to move Daly out to the left wing as while he has played full-back at Wasps, he’s more suited to outside centre. Furthermore what will happen if either of the back-three suffers an injury as there is no cover among the replacements?

With ten wins under his belt though it would be a brave person to criticise Jones’ thought process as he looks to end this year with a 100 percent record. Of course the toughest test will come in the final match against Australia who, like England, seem to be targeting that last showdown.

Fiji, in contrast, recall several big names who missed last week’s loss to the Barbarians as Leone Nakarawa, Sunia Koto, Peceli Yato, Josh Matavesi and Metuisela Talebula come into the XV. Expect a much-improved showing from that 40-7 defeat from John McKee’s men.

England though should have enough to continue with their impressive momentum that has seen them win the Six Nations Grand Slam and defeat Australia 3-0 on the road. It is just a shame the schedule doesn’t throw up a game with New Zealand to sign off 2016 with a bang.

Players to watch:

For England: A rare opportunity for Alex Goode to show Eddie Jones his talents as he gets the nod over Mike Brown. Goode has been superb for Saracens over the past 18 months, helping them domestic and European club titles, so this start is fully deserved. Another player who has waited patiently is wing Semesa Rokoduguni and going up against the country of his birth will add that little extra to his afternoon.

For Fiji: One of Fiji’s many danger men has to be Leone Nakarawa. His return to the side after missing last week’s defeat is a major boost as he offers so much from the second-row. An uncanny ability to offload in contact, England must be aware of his class or they will suffer at his hands. The hosts must also limit the amount of ball Nemani Nadolo sees on the wing as he will punish them if offered time to motor.

Head-to-head: We’ve touched on him already and it’s hard not to look past the personal battle between Semesa Rokoduguni and Nemani Nadolo. The Bath finisher will relish this chance at Twickenham but up against him is one of the best in the business in Nadolo. It’s taken him a little time to get into his stride at Montpellier after an outstanding career at the Crusaders but when with Fiji, he’s always a handful.

Previous results:

2015: England won 35-11 at Twickenham
2012: England won 54-12 at Twickenham
1999: England won 45-24 at Twickenham
1991: England won 28-12 in Suva
1989: England won 58-23 at Twickenham
1988: England won 25-12 in Suva

Prediction: Don’t expect the streak to be brought to an end against a Fijian side who will threaten at times. England by 25 points.

The teams:

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade

Fiji: 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Benito Masilevu, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Albert Vulivuli, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Seru Vularika, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Api Ratuniyawara, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: 16 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Eremasi Radrodro, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Kini Murimurivalu

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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