- Scrum just one area England need to focus on, says Rowntree
- Experience in Australian pack will make Wallabies dangerous
Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree has played down England’s expected dominance over Australia’s scrum saying that the team will have to be on top in all areas of the game if they are to beat the Wallabies.
The set piece has been singled out in the British media this week as an area that England are expected to dominate, compounded by the fact that Australia were overturned 33-6 by France last weekend.
England’s strength at the set piece against Fiji helped the side to a 54-12 win over the Pacific Islanders, with 16 out of 16 lineouts and 11 of 14 scrums being won by the home side, but historically a solid set piece against the Wallabies has not been enough to take victory.
In Perth back in 2010 England lost 27-17 to Australia despite being awarded two penalty tries after demolishing the Wallaby scrum. Rowntree is well aware that the scrum will only be one element of today's match and that the Australians are dangerous in all areas of the game.
“I am not so sure about this perceived dominance at the scrum we are going into the game with,” he said. "Certainly we are being very clear with our lads this week; we are not going to be complacent and we have to be very switched on in that area.
“I look back to Perth defeat two years ago where we had two penalty tries and we still didn’t win the game. If we go in there just thinking about the scrum we will take our eye off the ball in other things.”
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Australia’s last match may have been a heavy defeat but in the recent Rugby Championship they held New Zealand to an 18-18 draw, ending the All Blacks 16-game winning streak. The unpredictability of the Wallabies makes them a tougher opponent in Rowntree’s eyes and their attacking threat in all areas of the game will challenge England tomorrow.
“You have to defend and cover everything these days,” said Rowntree. “Australia pose threats all over the field more so than other Southern Hemisphere teams; you tend to know what’s coming with them but with Australia you don’t know what is coming. Around the edge of the breakdown, their counter-attack from kicks and their attacking ability from set pieces makes them dangerous. They are just very very clever.”
England’s front row against Fiji consisted of one debutant and another relative newcomer in the form of Leicester Tigers’ Ben Youngs and three cap Harlequins prop Joe Marler. Despite solid performances from the duo, Rowntree says that the combined experience of the Australian pack will make life difficult tomorrow.
“They will be licking their wounds after the surprising and heavy defeat to France,” he said. “They won’t want that happening again against England. A lot of these touring teams coming over for the autumn series and their tour will be deemed a success if they beat England at Twickenham.
“They have got a gnarly old front row who have around 140 caps between them so we are going to have our hands full against a pack who want to exercise the ghost from last week.”