England on the brink of the perfect year as they welcome Australia to town

England beat Australia 3-0 in June

BY Simon Maguire 08:58 Saturday 3 December 2016, 8:58 3 Dec 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

From the rubble of England’s failed Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign, Eddie Jones has rejuvenated the red rose and they now stand on the brink of a perfect year.

In the space of just over a year, Jones has delivered a 6 Nation’s Grand Slam, a clean sweep test series in Australia, and a first victory over South Africa in a decade. Now they are chasing the perfect year.

Michael Cheika’s Australia stand in the way and there has been a hostile build-up to the game from both camps. Accusations have flown back-and-forth since the summer: Jones accusing the Australian media of disrespect in June while Cheika has suggested Jones has ruined his reputation in his homeland with his antics.

England are on a remarkable run of form. Victory over the Wallabies will give them their 14th straight win and would put them hot on the heels of New Zealand's 18 win record.

Such is the concern in All Black country that one national paper is suggesting Kiwi fans root for their trans-Tasman rivals during today's match in order to protect their newly minted record.

England go into the game without powerful number 8 Billy Vunipola who succumbed to a knee injury against Argentina last weekend with Nathan Hughes coming into the team. Marlon Yarde starts instead of the clumsy Elliot Daly who is suspended after a horrendous tackle in his last outing. 

Australia have made four changes to their team with Nick Phipps starting at scrum-half. Kane Douglas, Sefanaia Naivalu and Lopeti Timani also come into the team.

England have won seven of their last nine matches against Australia. Australia had hoped to complete a first grand slam tour since 1984 this year but the loss to Ireland last weekend ended those hopes.  

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