Where the match will be won and lost
Australian defensive set-up at line-outs
The Australians are very smart. They do not do things the conventional way. Their coach, Michael Cheika, puts players such as Matt Giteau (No 12) where you think you cannot get at them, in the narrow tramlines (see diagram). Or they will station their best tackler, Michael Hooper, with the blindside wing in the 10/12 channel. Fly-half Michael Foley is then the blindside wing.
Technically, England can get at them by peeling around the front. They can also get at them with good drives. They have got the power to do so, and the inclusion of Joe Launchbury helps that. Ben Morgan is not the lightest either. The drive and the peel can be a serious weapon. If it goes well to start, then they should keep doing it. England have to mix up that ploy – shape to drive one way to get at Giteau but then go the other way.
Giteau is often in those tramlines. Even though Australia put their two best defenders, Hooper and whichever wing, Rob Horne or Adam Ashley-Cooper, in the 10-12 channel, I still think England should go for them.
Hooper defends very well if you run straight at him. But (see diagram) if you put some shape on him in your attack, with 10, 12, 13 going up but with 14 out the back, you force him to make a decision – to fix and stay, or read and go out the back, or do both.
England must not be afraid to challenge Hooper, make him make decisions against fast backs.
There are other considerations in the line-out. Where can we get to them is one question but where can they get to England? Seventy per cent of their line-outs are either peels or drives. They often also put in a wing in the front of the line-out, or scrum-half Will Genia, to free up a forward.
If a wing is in and around forwards, that is a trigger that they are going to drive it or do a peel with David Pocock moving into the 10 channel. They do mix it up, and they have been successful against Fiji and Uruguay, Pocock getting two tries from mauls against Fiji. But England will resist far better.
If the wing is around the 10 channel, they are coming off the top so England can gear up their defence accordingly – but I would also be wary about Australia having something in the locker they have not put out there yet.
There have been all sorts of barbs thrown at England about their scrummaging against Wales. I hope referee Romain Poite takes no notice of it. If Joe Marler is boring in, it is usually because of what the opposition tighthead has done. Poite knows his scrummage. I would have been nervous if it had been Jérôme Garcès.
England went very well against Wales and I expect more of the same. It will be a big night for Dan Cole, who has to really test Wallaby Scott Sio, their loosehead. If Cole manages to get on top, then that is a big boost for England. You cannot play without a sound platform.
England have to be smart in making sure that they get a proper engagement so that they can use their scrummaging technique to good effect. Poite will be on the lookout for any tricks.
3 Phase attack and Phase defence
Australia are very good at throwing shape in attack on opponents, coming at them from a variety of angles. Matt Giteau is fantastic at manipulating opportunities.
He is the key, not fly-half Bernard Foley necessarily. Giteau is the eyes and ears, on the lookout for any sort of an opening and with someone as threatening as Israel Folau to bring in to the attack, that is some weapon.
England must sit tight on Giteau. The flip side is that the Australian defence do not tend to make big tackles. England can go through them because they defend wide. Also, as they shuffle resources at the line-out, with Giteau out of position in the tramlines, they take time to reorganise. So England have a chance to exploit that with mismatches.
They must not hold back from attacking. And if we get penalties, we have a better goal-kicker in Owen Farrell than Foley.