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Jones: Oz scrum holds key v England

2015-09-30 16:34
Eddie Jones (Gallo Images)

London - Former Australia coach Eddie Jones believes the Wallabies will beat England in their crunch World Cup pool game on Saturday if their scrum holds up.

The 55-year-old Australian briefly put aside his current duties as Japan coach to joust with old sparring partner Clive Woodward, who inflicted on him the most painful defeat of his career when they were at the helm of the England and Australia teams.

Jonny Wilkinson's dropped goal in the dying seconds of extra-time in the final of the 2003 World Cup in Sydney dashed the hopes of the host nation and saw the trophy travel to the northern hemisphere for the one and only time in its history.

However, Jones thinks the Wallabies can return the favour on Saturday on England's hallowed turf of Twickenham and consign England to the ignominy of being the first host nation to bow out at the pool stage.

That outcome would be dependent on the battered, bruised but heroic Welsh - who edged England 28-25 at Twickenham last Saturday - beating Fiji on Thursday.

The Wallaby scrum - more specifically the front five - has long been seen as the Achilles heel of the team, not at times able to provide enough ball to unleash one of the most exciting and potent backlines in the world.

"It will be some game but if the Australian scrum holds up - and the actual number of scrums in a game is a big factor here - I'm tipping Australia," Jones said in a lively question-and-answer session with Woodward in Britain's Daily Mail.

"If they win their share of ball they have just a bit too much round the park.

"And I'd back whoever wins the pool to get all the way through to the final."

Jones, whose "Brave Blossoms" caused the greatest upset in World Cup history with a 34-32 victory over South Africa in their opening pool game, said current Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had revived the boys in green and gold since he took over prior to the northern hemisphere tour last November.

"I'm a fan," said Jones, who quipped after the South Africa victory that if Japan made the quarter-finals he would like to retire and sit in a comfortable studio like TV pundit Woodward.

"He likes big aggressive forwards and ball-carriers and he gives his backs a bit of latitude.

"Robbie Deans before him (Ewen McKenzie held the post in between them before stepping down last October) was a great technical coach but I think Australia lacked a bit of identity.

"Australia sport is about being a bit brash and arrogant, doing things differently and Cheika understands all that.

"Getting Gits (Toulon back Matt Giteau) and the others back from Europe was smart," added Jones, referring to how Cheika had persuaded his bosses to change their minds over not selecting foreign-based players, something that England by contrast refused to make a U-turn on.

Jones, whose side play Samoa in another crucial game on Saturday, where defeat would probably dash Japanese hopes of making history and reaching the last eight for the first time, does not believe England coach Stuart Lancaster has a firm game plan despite having had more than three years to define it.

"I don't know him but from the outside he has done a good job in getting the basics right," said Jones.

"But his next task is whether he can find the best rugby style for his players.

"To me he doesn't look 100 percent sure of exactly how he wants England to play - you can see that from his different selections."

Woodward for his part had to have the last word.

"An England drop goal in the last minute of the game will do us just fine!"

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