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England has no choice at Twickenham: Win or 'carrythemhome'

Rugby World Cup threatens to waltz on without England if hosts don't beat Wallabies

England has no choice at Twickenham: Win or 'carrythemhome'

LONDON (AP) -- The hashtag "carrythemhome" is the rallying cry for England on social media.

It's a call of support for England's bid to win the Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Yet just two weeks into the six-week tournament, the World Cup would have to carry on without the hosts if they do not beat Australia at Twickenham.

England has no choice but to beat the Wallabies on Saturday to stay in quarterfinals contention. Win, and Stuart Lancaster's squad remains in the hunt for at least another week.

The good thing for England is it has been in this must-win position recently.

Seven months ago, on one of the greatest days in Six Nations history, there were three contenders for the championship and Wales, then Ireland, pushed England into the position of having to beat France by 26 points at Twickenham to snatch the title. The English scored 55, but won by only 20, and missed out on points difference again.

The point is, under intense pressure, England was able to win the match.

Under intense pressure again on Saturday, they only have to win by one point.

The question is, can they?

The English start favorites, as they did against Wales last weekend before they choked and lost 28-25.

Having led by 10-point margins twice in the second half, England watched Wales' banged-up and bandaged backline create a converted try to level the score with eight minutes to go, then waived off a chance at a penalty goal to draw to instead go for a winning try. The outcome of that decision has to have left a seed of doubt in English minds.

Indiscipline and a lack of impact off the bench also contributed to England's defeat.

Jonathan Joseph, the playmaker and specialist center England lacked last week, has recovered remarkably quickly from a pectoral injury to force his way back into the starting lineup. Back into the reserves goes rugby league import Sam Burgess, criticized midweek by former Ireland center Gordon D'Arcy for "embarrassing those around him with his naivety."

Into the pack as injury replacements were lock Joe Launchbury and No. 8 Ben Morgan, who scored two tries against Australia on the back of his forwards' dominance in a win at Twickenham last November.

To no surprise, it's in the dark arts of the scrum where England believes it can triumph again. Australia is ready for it.

"They will come hard for us there," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said. "You have to be ready for war in that area."

To English eyes, it hasn't been much of a contest. They have such a long history of riding powerhouse pack performances to victories over Australia, that many believe the Wallabies are scarred.

Only Sekope Kepu, lock Rob Simmons, and openside flanker Michael Hooper survive up front from last November's match, and the scrum hasn't been a liability this year. The front row of Scott Sio, captain Stephen Moore, and Kepu has been together in four of the last six tests; examined by the Pumas, All Blacks twice, and Fiji in their World Cup opener.

They have wobbled but held on, unlike their lineout, which has had throw-ins frequently poached.

If the Wallabies can gain parity in the set-pieces, then loose forwards David Pocock and Hooper are the twin threats to retain or reclaim possession in the breakdowns. The All Blacks found this out to their cost in August.

Wider out, the Wallabies have a definite edge. Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, with direction from veterans Will Genia and Matt Giteau, give the Australians an abundance of talent to put England in a world of hurt.

After being eliminated by England in three of the last five World Cups, Australia wouldn't mind sending the hosts home, for real.


Updated : 2021-09-17 23:25 GMT+08:00