Eng­land team fights for World Cup sur­vival

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Eng­land, led by cap­tain Chris Rob­shaw, en­tered an early day of World Cup reck­on­ing on Satur­day need­ing to beat Aus­tralia to avoid be­com­ing the first hosts to fail to reach the knock­out rounds.

Two- time world cham­pi­ons South Africa also face a tough bat­tle against Scot­land in their search for re­demp­tion af­ter los­ing their first game to Ja­pan.

Rob­shaw and Eng­land coach Stu­art Lan­caster go into the Pool A game at Twick­en­ham with their jobs on the line.

Amid a new surge of na­tional ex­pec­ta­tions, Satur­day’s news­pa­pers piled pres­sure on the na­tional team. “World on their shoul­ders,” said a Daily Tele­graph head­line. “The cap­tain’s last stand,” de­clared the Daily Mail.

Lan­caster, stunned af­ter Eng­land gave up a win­ning po­si­tion to lose 28-25 to Wales last week, gave a fi­nal ral­ly­ing cry on the eve of the crunch match for which cen­tre Jonathan Joseph makes a re­turn from in­jury.

“My fi­nal words to the play­ers will be do it for ev­ery­one,” he said.

“To do it for the rugby clubs, the mums and dads and kids who play rugby, for their fam­i­lies, for the for­mer play­ers.”

Aus­tralia’s coach Michael Cheika has cut a calmer fig­ure, though he said his side is treats ev­ery match at the tour­na­ment “like a World Cup fi­nal.”

“I be­lieve in my play­ers 201 per­cent,” he said go­ing into the sell­out match at Twick­en­ham.

Eng­land have won three of the five matches be­tween the two ri­vals at World Cups, in­clud­ing the 2003 fi­nal Syd­ney. But Aus­tralia have won 24 of their games over­all, with 18 for Eng­land and one drawn.

A fail­ure at this stage would be a huge em­bar­rass­ment for the hosts, who wanted to use the World Cup to draw more peo­ple to the sport. Over £85 mil­lion (US$130 mil­lion) has been spent on in­fra­struc­ture for the tour­na­ment, ac­cord­ing to an Ernst and Young con­sul­tancy sur­vey.

Spring­bok Re­cov­ery

South Africa face their own crunch match at New­cas­tle against Scot­land in Pool B.

They suf­fered a stun­ning 34-32 de­feat by Ja­pan in their open­ing game. And, de­spite win­ning their sec­ond match 46-6 against Samoa, the Spring­boks have also lost their cap­tain Jean de Vil­liers, who suf­fered a bro­ken jaw in the game and de­cided to re­tire from in­ter­na­tional rugby.

The South Africans need a new win to get their cam­paign for the quar­ter­fi­nals fully back on track. But Scot­land are one of two sides who have taken max­i­mum win and bonus points from their first two games.

“We still need to grind it out and the Scot­land game is our next step,” said South Africa No. 8 Duane Ver­meulen. “The vibe has been a lot bet­ter this week and the main fo­cus is still how we want to play and what we want to achieve.”

Scot­land, who beat Ja­pan and the United States, have in­jury wor­ries but are still op­ti­mistic. Tens of thou­sands of Scots are ex- pected to cross the bor­der to see the game in the north­east city of New­cas­tle.

“The sup­port for us in this World Cup has been phe­nom­e­nal. It was re­ally spe­cial in Leeds last week (against the U.S. team),” said coach Very Cotter. “A lot of us noted that, and it should be even big­ger in New­cas­tle.”

The third match of the day, also in Pool B, sees Ja­pan play Samoa with both sides still har­bor­ing an out­side chance of a place in the quar­ter­fi­nals.


Aus­tralia’s head coach Michael Cheika, left, and Aus­tralia’s wing Adam Ash­leyCooper, right, de­liver a press con­fer­ence at Twick­en­ham Sta­dium in south­west Lon­don, Fri­day, Oct. 2, the eve of their 2015 Rugby Union World Cup match against Eng­land.

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