Preview: USA v Australia

Date published: September 4 2015

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After making the decision to travel to England via Chicago, the Wallabies take on USA in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture this Saturday.

Like the All Blacks before them, Soldier Field will host the southern hemisphere giants as they face the Eagles for the first time since 2011, a 67-5 victory.

It's very much a second string look to Australia for this showdown, as Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton, Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Tevita Kuridrani, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau all miss out on the matchday 23 after tough years for Super Rugby franchise and country.

Consequently opportunities aplenty arise for the Wallabies in their first game in the US in almost 40 years. Two players in particular will be keen to get minutes at some point and they are uncapped duo Toby Smith and Taqele Naiyaravoro, leading to the wing being tied to Australia, ending speculation about his future.

Naiyaravoro, while not included in the squad for the World Cup and soon to join Glasgow Warriors, will know that a strong showing off the bench and he could well receive a call should an injury occur. Those who watched this season's Super Rugby realise what he can offer.

What we won't know is how Matt Giteau and Henry Speight will fare but all the signs point to an exciting midfield.

Further forward it is good to see Sam Carter once again in a Wallaby 23 after an unfortunate injury and like Naiyaravoro, he simply cannot be ignored should injury hit the camp during the World Cup. Meanwhile, the in-form Greg Holmes has an opportunity to push his case to be starting tighthead.

USA suffered a blow this week when experienced back-row Scott LaValla was ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured elbow. He was replaced by Matt Trouville with the Eagles coach Mike Tolkin and team-mates having revealed just how important the Stade Francais forward was in the camp. His absence is clearly a setback.

Tolkin will be keen to avoid losing any other senior players before the tournament but there is a fine line between caution and dropping momentum so Blaine Scully, Takudzwa Ngwenya, Chris Wyles, AJ MacGinty, Mike Petri and Samu Manoa all start. Danny Barrett is included on the USA's bench.

"This will indicate where we are," Tolkin said. "Win, lose, or draw, we want to see a quality performance over 80 minutes, where the opposition feels pressured on both sides of the ball all game. Whatever the outcome, if we can do that, we will have had a successful final tune-up match.

"No matter the line-up that Australia put out, it will be very talented; but if we want to consider ourselves a team who is on the rise in world rugby, then we need to stand up to them."

Ones to watch:

For USA: Playing in his second successive international, number eight Samu Manoa's form will be key for USA at the upcoming World Cup. Losing the experience of Scott LaValla to injury is a blow to their pack so extra pressure now falls on such players as Manoa to lead the Eagles forward effort. As always the solid Chris Wyles and Blaine Scully in their back three will be utilised as much as possible.

For Australia: What a chance for Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley to make a statement to Michael Cheika ahead of their World Cup opener against Fiji on September 23. If they can put recent form woes to one side they will get a leg-up on Will Genia and Quade Cooper in the race for a starting jersey. Rob Horne is a dark horse to start on the left wing later this month as he rarely lets the side down and is well known to Cheika so he'll look to feed off Henry Speight and Kurtley Beale in back-play whilst being his usual solid self in other areas.

Head-to-head: It will be an intriguing battle between opensides Andrew Durutalo and Sean McMahon, with both power oriented players who also can break a line with pace. McMahon will hope to push his case for a bench spot in the World Cup with a strong performance in Chicago and alongside a somewhat under pressure Wycliff Palu, who goes up against Samu Manoa, the back-row clash is a tasty one.

Recent results:

2011: Australia won 67-5 in Wellington
1999: Australia won 55-19 in Limerick
1993: Australia won 26-22 in Riverside
1990: Australia won 67-9 in Brisbane
1987: Australia won 47-12 in Brisbane

Prediction: USA will fall short here as Australia show their class, winning by 30.

The teams:

USA: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Chris Wyles (c), 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Al McFarland, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Cameron Dolan, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Zach Fenoglio, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Louis Stanfill, 20 John Quill, 21 Danny Barrett, 22 Shalom Suniula, 23 Folau Niua.

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper (c).
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Toby Smith, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Sam Carter, 21 Quade Cooper, 22 Will Genia, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Date: Saturday, September 5
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Kick-off: 18:40 local (00:40, Sunday, September 6 GMT; 09:40, Sunday, September 6 AEST)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Joaquín Montes (Argentina), Dave Smortchevsky (Canada)
TMO: Andrew McMaster (Canada)

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