Days after Australia were swept by a brutal rugby league contest, England are ready to prove that fire-and-brimstone brutality exists in the union as well as they look to claim series glory with another show of strength.
On Wednesday, this country was left without a State of Origin decision Queensland and New South Wales.
Queensland triumphed in what was billed as a jittery oval ball classic that resonated across the code divide ahead of a winner-takes-all showdown on Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Days after Australia were swept away by a brutal rugby league competition, England are ready to prove that fire-and-brimstone brutality exists in the union too as they seek series glory in Sydney
Eddie Jones’ men hope to win the three-Test series 2-1 in the decider on Saturday
AUSTRALIA VS ENGLAND: THREE KEY BATTLES
Nick White vs. Danny Carr
There should be no shortage of chatter and chirping in this one-on-one showdown between the crafty fighting halves.
White has soured England with his claims of dirty tricks, but is also the heart of the Wallabies.
Nursing is back like a veteran and is a guaranteed presence for visitors. He is a man capable of adding valuable activity in attack.
Taniela Tupou vs Ellis Genge
This face-to-face meeting was the main topic last week, and it should be again.
Genge took fire at the thought of being humiliated by his rival in the front rank and continued to lead a cavalry charge ahead of England.
But Tupou scored a try on his comeback for the Wallabies and is a threat at heavyweight. A great fight and battle is ahead.
Samu Kerevi vs. Owen Farrell
In Brisbane last week, Farrell reveled in ripping the ball out of Kerevi’s hands, something few have managed to achieve against the Wallabies’ devastating ball.
If you can stop Kerevi, you go a long way to stopping Australia as a whole.
It’s not the same contest, but both men are absolutely vital to their teams’ chances. Kerevi tried to develop the kicking game, while Farrell’s points are vital for England in their quest for victory.
England plan to channel similar passion and intensity to shock Wallabies again.
With the win, they will win the new Ella-Mobbs Trophy as a reward for coming from 1-0 down.
Last week it was Richard Cockerill who issued a statement of intent ahead of the Tests that his pack backed up in fine style on their way to victory in Brisbane.
England’s forwards coach was at it again on Friday to leave the hosts in no doubt about the fury that awaits them.
“We’ve got two teams playing in a Test series so we’re both going to be in it,” said the former England prostitute.
“They talked themselves out of it, so we’ll have to live up to that and more. We’re going to come in with more physicality and even more purpose.
“Everything is on the line. We lost the first Test, everyone had written us off and we were under pressure.
“England teams who are under pressure come back really well and the boys were unbelievable in Brisbane.
“We’re looking forward to it. You want a rivalry, don’t you? You want to spice up your games.
“I don’t watch rugby league but I did watch Origin because they were going to go head-to-head like crazy.
“The first 15-20 minutes (on Saturday), let’s bring it because that’s what the bottom line is.”
Jamie George and his England team-mates must face a backlash from a pack of wallabies.
“We know that Dave Rennie and Michael Hooper are going to pump those guys up, making sure they open fire,” George said.
“They will have steam coming out of their ears. No problem. We need to know that they are traumatized animals.
“We lost the first test and we know how that feels. We know the reaction it causes. We’re not too worried about that.’
This series has been gently simmering.
Last week, Taniela Tupou’s comments about Ellis Genji managed to create so much antagonism in the England squad that he turned his fury on Australia with a thunderous performance.
This week, claims by Wallabies scrum-half Nick White about England’s “dirty tricks” ignited another fire in the visitors’ camp.
Richard Cockerill gave a statement of intent last week which his pack backed up in fine style – and he did it again on Friday to leave the hosts in no doubt about the fury ahead
The former Exeter player suggested that the England international was guilty of a deliberate roll-up tactic, but Cockerill replied: “I haven’t seen one of our lads sent off for a header.”
It referred to an incident in which Darcy Swain was dismissed from the Australian lock in Perth after Jonny Hill kicked him in the face and pulled his hair.
“We don’t want to give silly penalties but we don’t want to hold guys back either,” added Cockerill. “I keep hearing about the nitpicking that England brought. I don’t know what Australian rugby is like, but I don’t see it as nothing. It was pretty tame.
“We just need to continue our game with a good set-up, fight tough, clean rooks, be as physical as possible, be as tough as possible and follow the laws of the game.”
An explosive contest lies ahead and it will demand one last Herculean effort from a battered England team at the end of a grueling season. This is their last game before a well-deserved rest.
Hooker Jamie George said he expected Wallabies captain Michael Hooper (left) and head coach Dave Rennie (right) to send the players out firing and “steam coming out of their ears”.
It will be interesting to see if England will be sharp and direct again, as they were in most of the matches last week.
Or that Danny Carr’s selection to start at scrum-half hints at a revised plan to knock the Wallabies off their feet.
If this does turn out to be another hard-fought battle between the sides, here’s hoping that concussions and broken limbs haven’t marred this streak so far.
Eddie Jones’ side need to re-ignite the fire within, but this time they won’t have the same level of desperation to stoke it. The pressure has eased after the win in Brisbane, but the stakes remain high.
Forall the improvements under Rennie, Australia are still not a formidable force, especially without Quaid Cooper and Will Skelton.
Forall their improvements under Rennie, Australia are not yet a formidable force, especially without No.10 Quade Cooper (above) – so England should now be expected to wrap up the series
So now England – albeit diminished by a long list of casualties – should be expected to regain momentum and complete the series.
Ideally, the outlines of a clear plan should also be drawn up by now, with the next World Cup in France just over a year away.
Others are ahead in the evolutionary process, so England need to catch up in terms of recruitment and honing the tactical plan.
But, I repeat, the main thing is the result. It’s always like that. “We want to win the series,” Cockerill said. “We came to win the series.”
Quite right. If England finish the job here, it will save their season.