England take on Scotland for the 129th time at Eden Park on Saturday and the stakes have never been higher than for this Pool B clash.
England take on Scotland for the 129th time at Eden Park on Saturday and the stakes have never been higher than for this World Cup Pool B clash.
With Argentina odds on to get the quarter-final qualifying points they need against Georgia the following day, it is either England or Scotland who will likely be starting to pack their bags for the trip home after they meet. The Scots must win and deprive England of any bonus-point whatsoever.
The reward for a Scotland upset win would probably be a match-up against the hosting All Blacks back at Eden Park on October 9.
England will be looking for a fourth straight win to set up a quarter-final with France and they have already made it clear no mercy will be shown. The two sides have only met once before in the World Cup when England won 9-6 in the semi-finals of RWC 1991. Remember, the Gavin Hastings kick?
It will also be the first time they've played at a neutral venue since they took part in the very first rugby international played in Edinburgh in 1871.
Scotland's players know they have to produce the collective performance of a lifetime if they are to have any chance of ruining England's hopes of a second World Cup victory.
“There's everything to play for. They'll be coming out fighting and it's a classic Scotland-England derby – here we go again,” said Sean Lamont who switches to inside centre.
“We know the job we need to do, but it's still a lot of pressure. None of the boys are ready to go home yet. None of them.
“It's not a pile of points. Eight points, we need, it's not a massive difference.
“England can leak tries and they've shown in this tournament that they can concede, so there's no reason why we can't get a few points against them.”
Scotland boss Andy Robinson, who formerly coached England, has brought in six new players for the match with the captaincy reverting to lock Alastair Kellock, who missed out on the Argentina game. Also back in are Joe Ansbro, who lines up with Lamont at centre and prop Euan Murray who was not considered for the Pumas game as he opts not to play on Sundays due to his religious beliefs. Mike Blair gets the start at scrum-half in place of Rory Lawson, who was captain against Argentina, Simon Danielli comes in on the wing in place of Lamont and Richie Vernon is at number eight in place of key player Kelly Brown.
England meanwhile show three changes with Matt Stevens, Courtney Lawes and Delon Armitage in for Alex Corbisiero, Tom Palmer and Mark Cueto. The first two drop to the bench and Cueto has been left out of the 22. Lawes is back after serving a two-match ban.
“It's the oldest international in the world. There's a lot of history there, you grow up watching the game,” said Johnson ahead of the game.
“But that's all for the build-up in the exterior. For us, it's about going out and playing well, doesn't matter if it's Scotland or whoever it may be, you've just got to go out and perform
“If we get it wrong there's a chance we could be sitting at home by Tuesday.”
Ones to watch:
For England: It was surprising to see Mark Cueto dropped from the line-up and even more so after his hat-trick performance of last week. But obviously Martin Johnson sees Delon Armitage as offering the right thing to face Scotland. Yes, he is good in the air but other than that, we're confused.
For Scotland: Saturday promises to be a close game and that is why Chris Paterson must recapture his old kicking form. If he can, and Scotland manage to keep themselves within distance, then maybe they can get that eight-point winning margin that would see them progress into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Head-to-head: Two of the northern hemisphere's brightest young lock talents go head-to-head in Auckland. Courtney Lawes and Richie Gray are similar in their frame but Lawes is a viscous tackler and could be key to England foiling the Scots. Gray meanwhile gets through a ton of work all over the field.
2011: England won 22-16 at Twickenham
2010: 15-15 draw at Murrayfield
2009: England won 26-12 at Twickenham
2008: Scotland won 15-9 at Murrayfield
2007: England won 42-20 at Twickenham
2006: Scotland won 18-12 at Murrayfield
2005: England won 43-22 at Twickenham
2004: England won 35-13 at Murrayfield
2003: England won 40-9 at Twickenham
2002: England won 29-3 at Murrayfield
2001: England won 43-3 at Twickenham
2000: Scotland won 19-13 at Murrayfield
Prediction: England by 6!
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 James Haskell, 7 Lewis Moody (capt), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Nick Easter, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Matt Banahan.
Scotland: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Max Evans, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Sean Lamont, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 John Barclay, 6 Ally Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock (capt), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Nick de Luca.
Date: Saturday, October 1
Kick-off: 20.30 (07.30 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (WAL); JÃ©rÃ´me Garces (FRA)