Right, that’s enough from me for one series. Rob Kitson’s match report has landed so I shall usher you all over in that direction. Feel free to share your thoughts below the line.
Thank you for joining me tonight and for all three Tests this series. See you back here soon.
Jones then goes the full reverse ferret on the smack talk motivation. “We don’t talk about those things, mate,” he tells Channel Nine without conviction. “Honestly. We are just worried about ourselves. Maybe with the senior players, we spoke a little bit about it. We’re a young team, we just want to look after ourselves, mate.”
Eddie Jones is happy with his night’s work. “I’m pleased for the players. We’ve got a very young squad here. They learning about the game. If you look at the first and third Tests, they were very similar. We started both games poorly, gave Australia points and had to claw our way back into the game. First Test we didn’t fight hard enough but this test we fought pretty hard. Particularly the young finishers.
“We just had to fight. You know Australia’s always going to keep the ball for long phases but every phase they keep it, if you defend well, it is an opportunity to turn them over. We were lucky enough to turn them over and get the result.”
Ellis Genge is speaking to Sonny-Bill Williams, repeating the English mantra of the week that they were motivated by Australia’s “smack” talk in the press during the week. Very Michael Jordan Last Dance areas if you ask me.
James Slipper sums the night up concisely from an Australian perspective. “It is disappointing, isn’t it?” he tells Channel Nine. “I thought we started well. We were very positive. Probably left a few tries out there early on. Then once again our discipline when we started playing in our own half.”
Making the two worlds of today’s Test rugby collide, Andrew Hill has emailed in suggesting England should pinch Andy Farrell as head coach. Not a bad day for the Farrell family, and northern hemisphere rugby in general.
I’m looking forward to reading what our team of reporters made of that tonight, and the series overall.
From an Australian perspective it feels as though the Wallabies remain on a positive trajectory, but the inability to finish clinically is becoming a consistent concern.
England? Still plenty of questions after riding their luck to a series victory at the SCG. Marcus Smith turned in his best performance of the tour tonight, but it’s debatable if his combination with Farrell is capable of unlocking defences sufficient to win a World Cup. Surely Jack van Poortvilet has secured the No 9 jersey for the foreseeable, while young backs Freddie Steward and Tommy Freeman enhanced their reputations. It’s all very much a work in progress. But that work will seem much more palatable with a trophy on the flight home.
Marika Koroibete - Player of the Series
The big Australian winger was a powerhouse in all three Tests. He is not thrilled with the award.
Michael Hooper was diplomatic in defeat. “Firstly, pay credit to England. They played a good game. Come back from 1-0 down, close out the series there. Take your hat off to a grind from them winning the series.
“I don’t think we were clinical. We created good opportunities tonight, just not good enough to finish them.”
Courtney Lawes was proud of his side’s resilience, not so much Australia’s comments in the press. “We just stayed in it. We have fought for each other... I mean, they give us a good bit of fuel in the press to be fair. They were talking smack about us. That motivated us a bit but the boys stuck together, stuck to our guns. We didn’t fire that many shots tonight unfortunately but we found a way to win, that’s the big improvement.”
Freddie Steward was beaming after being named player of the match. “It was a battle. The Wallabies stepped it up,especially in the first 20, they came hard at us, we had to dig in and fight. We had a period at the end where we had to give it everything to get in front. Monster effort. We probably lacked a bit of physicality to start with, we made up for it. The boys dug in. All those who came off the bench, everyone gave everything.”
Samu Kerevi, who was outstanding tonight, and all series, was gracious in defeat. “You’ve got to give it to England, the defensive set. Guys like Marcus Smith, the forward pack, put their bodies on the line.”
That was a gripping nip-and-tuck Test match, one that Australia didn’t deserve to lose, but couldn’t do enough to win against a monumental defensive effort from England.
Full-time: Australia 17-21 England
England win the Ella-Mobbs cup!
80 mins: England take no risks down the left, keep the ball in hands and are eventually held up over the line for a drop out. The line drop-out is short - and Australia win it in the air! Is there time for the resulting scrum?
80 mins: It begins with a solid lineout. There’s space on the left and Vunivalu almost breaks into it. England slow it down on the touchline so Australia come infield - and there’s a turnover!
79 mins: Everything on one 90m attack for the Wallabies.
78 mins: Simple lineout take for England on halfway on the left. The maul milks more seconds off the clock and as it rumbles infield JVP box kicks and England win the ball in the air. JVP goes again and the ball rolls out inside Australia’s 22.
77 mins: On comes Vunivalu for his debut in gold.
77 mins: 18 phases, over two minutes of attacking. That was a huge shot from the Wallabies and England’s jaw held.
75 mins: The Australian scrum on halfway needs resetting, Take two collapses but play is allowed to continue and Australia attack down the left through Wright. Frost takes a carry, Hooper is smashed in contact again, the English defence is magnificent. Australia keep the ball alive on the left and in so doing head towards the 22. They then use the space on the right through Fainga’a. Ikitau gets involved on phase ten but England hold their nerve. Samu can’t get through, nor can Kerevi or Slipper. Phase 15 and still the Wallabies probe. ENGLAND PENALTY! That was a mighty, mighty defensive effort from the visitors.
73 mins: But the lineout on halfway is scruffy and there’s soon a penalty to the Wallabies.
73 mins: England’s defence tonight, in close and along the line, has been superb.
72 mins: Australia get quick lineout ball and dart from right to left. Hooper is smashed in contact and England swarm over Frost. The Wallabies reset and do well to keep the ball alive in the guts. Phases build but England are hard at the ruck, pushing Australia back until Lawes and Isiekwe are too strong and earn a penalty.
71 mins: Good lineout from England, and the defensive maul is tight and secure. JvP kicks to touch almost at halfway. Excellent clearance from England under pressure.
69 mins: Isiekwe does well to drive over the gainline behind a sluggish lineout. The kick down the line asks a lot of Koroibete but he’s up to it and from the recycled ball Australia move the focus to the right and there’s space to gain 30, 40 metres courtesy of a Kerevi cutout pass that was forward-ish. Australia are coming hard. They go through hands to the left, then redirect back to the left and Kerevi goes to his boot now to dribble into the right corner. England under the pump.
68 mins: Hodge returns the restart with interest and England will begin the next phase of the match with a lineout on halfway.
67 mins: Grandstand finish coming up.
CONVERTED TRY! Australia 17-21 (Fainga’a, 67)
Play comes back to the earlier penalty and Hodge kicks to the left corner. England must be on thin ice now with repeat infringements.
The latest 5m throw is good and there’s another penalty advantage. This time it doesn’t matter because after an age of huffing and puffing Folau Fainga’a blows the house down, or more accurately, bulldozes it down, getting low and shunting his way a couple of metres over the line.
64 mins: the throw and catch are good but the maul is held up by England. Australia go infield and Kerevi hits the line hard. England do well to reset and hold up Samu, then Koroibete as the Wallabies mass on the England line. Penalty advantage as bodies wriggle and squirm like eels in a puddle. Play spreads to the right, but it’s slow, but what it does is create space on the left to run back into, which ends with the overlap runner darting to the corner but he’s stopped just in time.
63 mins: Hodge kicks to the right corner. Another 5m lineout for the Wallabies.
63 mins: Australia lineout on the 22, on the left. It’s quick ball off Philip and the Wallabies get to work infield. Valetini makes yards, so does Kerevi, McDermott is busy. Penalty on the ground to Australia.
62 mins: The next England scrum is also far from clear cut and Vunipola does well to hold the ball in at the base buying enough time for JvP to clear to the 22.
61 mins: The lineout is solid. The maul is busy. McDermott, on for White at No 9 is desperate to get the ball out, but he can’t. England have smothered. The whistle blows, the referee’s arm extends towards the white jerseys, and the tourists survive.
59 mins: I say breather, what I really mean is a massive Wallaby shove, followed by Samu pounding into JvP forcing the penalty. Hodge kicks to the left corner and Australia have a golden opportunity to hit back.
58 mins: Australia continue to move the ball around through hands looking for gaps. They work through five phases of almost rugby until Frost looks certain to streak clear but Nowell punches above his weight. The ball is recycled but Alaalatoa can’t hold onto it and England get a breather at the scrum.
CONVERSION! Australia 10-21 England (Farrell, 57)
Another simple two points for England’s kicker and the Wallabies now have an uphill battle.
TRY! Australia 10-19 England (Smith, 55)
Mark it down, the making of Marcus Smith began on the 55th minute of the third Test at the SCG. Australia make a mess of the lineout on halfway, Smith feeds off the scraps at ground level, spins, gathers his thoughts and then hares towards the line like a greyhound. That was a scintillating moment of opportunism. Brilliant from Smith.
53 mins: England get slow lineout ball so JvP has to box kick down the right touchline. Australia take chances coming out of defence and eventually have to concede a clearing Lolesio boot. In response Smith does brilliantly to time an inside pass to Ludlam to break the line, but the flanker commits a schoolboy error on the ground at the breakdown and Australia clear.
52 mins: Good lineout and maul from the Wallabies. Then they attack off the back in the hope of freeing Koroibete on the left wing but he runs out of space and Nowell defends superbly to snuff out the danger.
52 mins: Cowan-Dicke does well on the ground to steal a turnover and Freeman pounces, chipping and chasing down the left touchline, but the whitewash wins. This half has been much more on England’s terms, and the momentum is growing their way.
“This super-tough series will stand both squads in good stead for the challenges up ahead. England’s squad depth being tested and so far so good. Aus’s traditional strength in the backs now being supplemented by good organisation in the forwards. I think the Aussie backs will get the necessary points to win this one 2nd half.” Dean Kinsella fancies a comeback.
PENALTY! Australia 10-14 England (Farrell, 50)
On the 22, just to the left of the posts Farrell extends England’s lead. Big half hour coming up.
49 mins: England elect to run this time and Genge bulldozes his way into Australia’s half. That multi-pivot line works its magic with JvP, then Farrell, then Smith getting their hands on a phase that ends with the latter inviting Steward through the line. From the breakdown the Wallabies are penalised and Farrell has the chance for more points. Much better from England.
48 mins: Then Philip pilfers the lineout and White can kick into England’s half.
47 mins: Australia do what they need from the lineout and resulting box kick to clear 30m.
46 mins: It’s a good one, and Lolesio can’t bring it in. Farrell seizes the opportunity to dribble a kick into the left corner and secure territorial advantage.
45 mins: England slow things down on halfway off the lineout and JvP kicks high. Australia try to run it back down the left but the angles are too steep and England cover. An exchange of kicks ends with the flying Steward again claiming a contested mark to set England up on halfway, but a dropped ball near the right blocks everything up and JvP again has to kick.
43 mins: Australia again pass neatly after quick lineout ball. Then they go through the phases with Tupou busy, Wright clever stepping off his left and White everywhere, getting to breakdowns and looking for angled runners. Phase 10 and Kerevi bursts the 22, the momentum is irresistible, and.... penalty England. Brilliant again from Vunipola and Wilson is forced to take him out off the ball.
42 mins: Another penalty to the Wallabies, this time against Genge for a high tackle on Wright after Australia had threatened behind a lineout on halfway.
41 mins: There’s a penalty almost immediately after the restart to Australia against Ludlam. The breeze, which has picked up, is now favouring Australia, and superboot Hodge.
Here come the two sides back for another 40 minutes. Just one point the difference with the Ella-Mobbs cup up for grabs.
Agree it’s brave, but also you have to question why Care started to begin with.
Not a lot to write home about for England. The scrum has again dominated, but outside of some flashes by Freeman and Steward the rest has been very scrappy. Jack van Poortvilet’s impact was immediate.
Australian squad member James O’Connor sums things up pretty neatly at half-time. “We’ve created plenty of opportunities but haven’t delivered. A few missed passes at the edge. They worked their way back up the field towards the end of the half and got points on the board which is disappointing.”
White, Koroibete and Hooper have been excellent for the Wallabies. Play behind the set-piece has been superb, especially off the lineout.
Although, Hooper’s ability to hunt down Care probably led to the substitution that allowed JVP to create England’s try... a score that resulted from a Farrell missed penalty that bounced off the post. Moments in sport are often hard to legislate for.
Absolutely. Vunipola seems to fighting a lone hand, and Hooper has the bit between his teeth for the Wallabies.
Half-time: Australia 10-11 England
Farrell hooks his touchline conversion to the left. England somehow lead at the break but the half was played on Australia’s terms.
TRY! Australia 10-11 England (Steward, 40)
England secure the lineout but the mail gains little ground. There’s a penalty advantage as the forwards edge infield towards the line. The ball is then released through hands and Freeman looks certain to score in the left corner but he’s somehow scragged short. Lawes then drives short. But finally, JVP ignores his pack and sees his fullback steaming into the line and he bursts over to score. Huge huge moment for England.
39 mins: White mops up and runs clear, but he’s tackled in isolation, can’t release and it’s a penalty in an almost identical place. This time England kick to the right corner...
39 mins: 30m out, to the right of the posts, Farrell hits the left-hand upright!
38 mins: England receive their third scrum penalty of the night, a “balance” thing explains the referee. This one is in kicking range for Owen Farrell.
37 mins: Another slick move off a lineout for the Wallabies, this time from right to left with Koroibete accepting contact, but when the phase returns infield there’s a loose carry and England can counter. That move breaks down when Nowell loses control - he looked tackled without the ball to me - but the scruffy passage is allowed to continue until another unforced error, this time from Slipper, forces a whistle.
Interesting...JVP is on for England in place of Care.
35 mins: England’s forwards are making no headway and Care again box kicks down the line following a restart. By contrast Australia run and make yards with ball in hand down the right. Wright then does opt to run, unnecessarily, and England accept the invitation to boot to halfway.
PENALTY! Australia 10-6 England (Farrell, 34)
Farrell punishes Australia’s lapse in concentration with a penalty from 25m out just to the left of the posts.
32 mins: Bad mistake from the Wallabies with Hodge kicking out on the full, bringing play back inside Australia’s 22. England secure the attacking lineout but almost immediately George loses possession in contact. England are out of sorts. Fortunately Vunipola does brilliantly to nail the next tackle and secure the breakdown for a kickable penalty.
PENALTY! Australia 10-3 England (Lolesio, 31)
Lolesio extends Australia’s advantage, and they are worth it on the balance of the opening half hour. They are stronger up front and more dynamic in the backs.
29 mins: Australia’s scrum feed near halfway needs resetting, eating up the clock. The Wallabies attack to the right again behind the second set and Hodge almost makes a break. There’s no ‘almost’ when Koroibete rumbles through like a Pamplona bull and Australia are hungry for points. England are scrambling, Vunipola tackles and tries to counter-ruck, but he’s harshly penalised for his second effort and Lolesio has another opportunity to kick for goal.
27 mins: Australia deserve to have their noses in front after a bright start. England have lacked the intensity of Brisbane. And it shows again with Care again at fault for a cheap turnover after being hunted down by Hooper in broken field.
CONVERSION! Australia 7-3 England (Lolesio, 26)
Noah Lolesio makes amends for his earlier miss with a superb conversion from the right touchline into the wind.
TRY! Australia 5-3 England (Wright, 24)
Bosh! Super set-piece try from Australia, from all of 80 metres! Off a defensive lineout on the left the ball goes through hands to the right, helped by a long bullet by Koroibete, and the speed of the move catches England out. White then orchestrates a one-two with Wright to draw England’s covering defender and leave him for dead. Brilliant running rugby.
23 mins: Smith bombs from behind a lineout on halfway and Steward does phenomenally well to chase it and bring it down with a mighty leap. But there’s a breakdown penalty soon afterwards and it all comes to nought. Rugby; frustrating.
23 mins: Nice attack from England - on the left again - with neat hands from George in the line allowing Freeman to show his acceleration and nip into the 22, but Koroibete is across strongly to cover.
21 mins: England set up a maul on the left that draws in more big bodies than Weight Watchers. Eventually they’re told to use it so they kick down the line and invite Australia to run back at them. That is exactly what they do until White’s box kick is smothered and Paisami concedes a penalty from mopping up on the ground.
19 mins: Hodge declines an invitation to play kick-to-kick, running into contact on halfway near the right touchline. Australia go through hands to the other flank before White orchestrates a couple of neat drives. Paisami kicks aimlessly and it’s mopped up by Smith, setting up another long kicking duel that this time Hodge engages in. He shows his class too, booting to touch deep in England’s half.
PENALTY! Australia 0-3 England (Farrell, 18)
From around 40m out, just to the right of the posts, Farrell gets the scoreboard moving. It’s barely deserved, but England lead.
16 mins: Vunipola runs the restart back at Wilson and earns an advantage. Liberated, England throw the ball to the left touchline and attack for the first time tonight. Smith is nippy with a step to earn some space and Steward profits. But the attack fizzles out and we go back to the kickable penalty.
15 mins: Kerevi bulldozes through midfield off the back of the scrum. Phases follow with some cute short-side offloads but George is in the right place at the right time to intercept just as momentum was building. Care immediately kicks to the corner and the weight forces a line drop-out.
13 mins: England have had no field position so far and they lose cheap ball again following a lineout near halfway - Care at fault for failing to pay attention to Hooper sniping at the breakdown. This has been a poor start by the visitors but the Wallabies have yet to punish them.
11 mins: ANOTHER LET OFF FOR ENGLAND! This time after the penalty downfield the Wallabies attack off the lineout, Tupou wriggles free but with gold jerseys pounding towards the line his offload isn’t efficient, the ball goes to ground and England breathe a sigh of relief.
From the resulting scrum feed they get another penalty - their second of the night already.
10 mins: Superb lineout manoeuvre from the Wallabies on halfway, and they’re into the combinations in midfield ready to break on the left. But then play is called back to the lineout. Hmmmm, was that necessary? The Wallabies looked ready to strike but instead the referee has a a long chat with Hill for interfering with White on the ground.
8 mins: England put their forwards through phases in their own 22 but there’s no go-forward. Care again box kicks clear, and this time he makes good distance.
More injury woes for Australia. Slipper doesn’t look happy with his left shoulder, but he’s battling on for now.
7 mins: Australia scrum centre-field on the 22. The Wallabies break off the back and they have acres on the right wing. The ball goes through hands and looks destined for a score but Hodge and Wright get their wires crossed and the ball flubs into touch. Another let off for England.
6 mins: England’s shonky start continues with Farrell kicking straight into touch with his 22 drop out.
5 mins: Noah Lolesio doesn’t miss, does he? Yes, this time he does! Huge let off for England. From 22m out, 15m in from the left touchline Lolesio fades beyond the far post.
4 mins: It’s a solid lineout and the Wallabies get to work through Frost on the left, then Hodge on the right. There’s a penalty advantage for England interfering at the ruck and after the attack breaks down play is called back to a gettable kick for goal.
3 mins: A not particularly imaginative kicking exchange follows with both coaches clearly wanting to play for territory early. The aerial ping-pong ends with an offside penalty against England. Hodge kicks to the left touchline near the 22.
2 mins: England take a testing opening kick-off but it’s almost disaster soon afterwards. Care tries to box-kick from behind the ruck but Frost is on him quickly and executes a volleyball-style block that rebounds towards England’s 22. The chase is on, but it gets messy and England escape with a scrum. That set piece then becomes a penalty to the tourists and they kick clear.
In 80 minutes or so we will know the winner of the Ella-Mobbs trophy.
The anthems are unintentionally amusing to me. God Save the Queen is dross. Then the bloke belting out Advance Australia Fair treats it like he’s on stage at Les Miserables trying to impress a casting director. Just the 15 minutes late we’ll finally have some sport.
There’s a moment of celebration before the anthems to remember Australian referee and administrator Andrew Cole, who died recently.
Now here come the Wallabies, led by Nic White on the occasion of his 50th cap.
Phew, they’ve stopped. The thud of drums has been replaced by the clack of studs on polished concrete as England calmly make their way from the bowels of the SCG onto the famous oval.
It’s a very drum heavy pregame at the SCG. Less half-time at a 1970s FA Cup final, more, “let’s cross the street and not make eye contact” in a busy shopping mall full of buskers.
One final read before it’s laser focus on the third Test, and it’s an important one from Rob Kitson on stoppages and concussion.
Billy Vunipola was crucial to England’s second Test victory, but only a year ago there was no guarantee he had a Test future.
Conditions: The SCG is cool and dry this evening, but there’s a northerly breeze that is set to stiffen as the match wears on.
If England need any help navigating Sydney this week they need only look to outside centre, and Sydneysider, Guy Porter.
Michael Hooper, the Wallabies skipper, has had a quick word during his warm up. I can confirm he is “ready to rip in”. In terms of insight there’s a strong indication Australia are going to play more for territory than in Brisbane when England dominated field position, and the magic word - physicality - got a good airing. \
I reckon the first half tonight could be a tense tactical battle with plenty of squaring off and posturing from the big lads.
Hear hear! Got to feel for young Van Poortvilet who showed plenty of spark on starting debut.
On the topic of referees, Eddie Jones brought up the subject when he held court during the week.
“I’ve been speaking to a few ex-coaches. The referees, coaches and players need to get together and say ‘This is the game we want. This is the game people want to see.’ I’m certainly going to be pushing for it because I’ve had enough.
Your officials tonight are led by Kiwi Paul Williams.
Assistants: Andrew Brace (Ireland), James Doleman (New Zealand). TMO: Chris Hart (New Zealand)
As is customary at this stage of a tour with everything on the line a bit of needle has crept into proceedings.
At the start of the week Wallaby half Nic White made some innocuous comments around stuff happening off the ball. “It is just part of the game,” he said. “but we won’t be baited into that off-the-ball stuff. We will leave that to those boys.”
Lawes replied by suggesting England were living rent free in Australia’s heads. “I think we just wind them up in general because they don’t like us,” he said.
By the end of the week, Eddie Jones had called White “the biggest niggler of all time,” scoffing at the Wallaby’s apparent hypocrisy.
And then forwards coach Richard Cockerill suggested, in his best “that’s not a knife” deadpan, that England are now ready to bring some niggle after all.
Michael Hooper has won the toss (for the first time this series I think) and Australia will kick-off.
Gerard Meagher has more on England’s injury situation.
But skipper Courtney Lawes isn’t looking for excuses.
I don’t think you can trouble yourself with it too much because it is what it is. We all know what we signed up for. A lot of it is down to luck, people catching the ball and coming down awkwardly, getting landed on and stuff like that. It’s bad luck and unfortunately it happens.
For reasons best known to himself, Eddie Jones has swapped his scrum-halves for the deciding Test with veteran Danny Care back in the No 9 jersey despite Jack van Poortvilet standing out on starting debut in the second Test. In the pack, Ollie Chessum and Lewis Ludlam replace the injured Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill.
Dave Rennie has made four changes to his run-on side. Two that are injury-related see Reece Hodge recalled to plug a hole at fullback after missing the original squad, while Nick Frost comes into the second row. Jordan Petaia and Cadeyrn Neville miss out. Elsewhere in the pack Harry Wilson slots into the back row, with Rob Leota dropping to the bench and James Slipper pushes Angus Bell to the pine.
Alongside Bell and Leota in the bibs will be Suliasi Vunivalu, the former rugby league winger in line to make his Wallabies debut. Vunivalu was a lightning quick high leaping force in the NRL and is sure to catch the eye in gold.
As Rob Kitson writes, these concurrent South v North series have demonstrated the evenness in world rugby heading towards a wide open World Cup.
Another 4-0 margin this Saturday would definitely put the cat among the southern hemisphere pigeons. Surely it could not happen again, could it? What is clear is that rugby is in a levelling-up era where any of the world’s top 10 sides – Japan lost only 20-15 against France on Saturday – can theoretically beat any other. Whoever wins this coming weekend, the north-south gap has never been narrower.
Meanwhile, across the ditch, Ireland have completed the greatest series triumph in their history.
The Australian perspective is provided by Angus Fontaine who urges the Wallabies to draw on the past at the historic SCG.
As they exit the old Member’s Pavilion and take to the sacred SCG turf, the Wallabies might hear the echo of Dave Brockhoff’s words ahead of the 1975 Test: “Some people could live with saying ‘We’re a cracker bunch of blokes, that’s what matters’... but winning is what it is all about.”
Rob Kitson sets the scene from an England perspective towards the conclusion of a tour that has yet to answer the questions posed before departure.
From a purely red rose perspective, though, the Ella-Mobbs Cup decider is a keynote contest for a couple of reasons. Clearly there is a desire to end a long season on an upbeat note by securing a morale-enhancing series victory, a distant prospect less than a fortnight ago. To do so with a matchday squad featuring three 21-year-olds and two 19-year-olds would further hint at a corner finally being turned.
Perhaps as importantly it would also legitimise the fresh approach, instigated by the players, that has significantly lightened the mood in and around the camp. On this trip, for example, there has been no training beyond midday with players encouraged to switch off and enjoy themselves rather than constantly being under the thumbs of a stern-faced management.
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the third and final Test between Australia and England. Kick-off at the Sydney Cricket Ground is 7.55pm local time, which is 10.55am in the UK.
At one-apiece in the series there’s all to play for at the historic SCG, a beautiful arena, and one that has not hosted a rugby Test for 36 years, with England’s tourists not making the pilgrimage since 1975. It promises to be a cracking atmosphere with every seat taken for the first rugby international in Sydney since 2020.
After levelling the series in Brisbane last Saturday night England head in with momentum. But despite dominating possession and territory the tourists lacked a cutting edge that almost allowed the Wallabies a comeback.
Neither side are at full strength tonight with injuries decimating both squads. The Wallabies are especially badly hit with only six of the 15 men named to start the first Test remaining in their original jerseys.
“It’s been a pretty brutal series so far,” conceded Australian coach Dave Rennie, “but we’ve had a good week of preparation which will allow us to put in a performance that makes Australians proud on Saturday night. As a squad we have an opportunity to go to Sydney and lift some silverware in a series decider and that’s something that highly motivates us. It’s massive and we’re well aware of that.”
His opposite number Eddie Jones said: “We’ve had a squad of 36 this tour who have competed hard and we’re really proud of their efforts. We go into this Test with a strong squad of 23. It’s a young, inexperienced but together group who have developed well throughout this series. We want to play with purpose and energy to win the series and an historic Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.”
Let’s hope there isn’t another long list of casualties tonight and we’re treated to a finale worthy of the rivalry.
As always there’s plenty to chew over before kick-off. If you want to be a part of it you get in touch via email or tweet me @JPHowcroft if that’s easier.