RWC: Match preview: Australia – USA

Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Friday 23rd Sep 8:30pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 7, Australia 7, USA 0
Last meeting: Australia 55 beat USA 19 in Limerick (Pool stage 1999)
Last meeting at a World Cup: Australia 55 beat USA 19 in Limerick (Pool stage 1999)

Team news: Robbie Deans has made eight changes to the side that went down to Ireland, but showing their depth there is still a lot of quality players named. Most of the changes come in the pack, with Wycliff Palu, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Polota Nau and James Slipper coming in. Genia has taken over the captaincy from James Horwill, with Robert Horne and Drew Mitchell the new faces joining him in the backline. Eddie O’Sullivan has made a massive fourteen changes to his side, lock Hayden Smith the only player remaining from the side that beat Russia. Its clear that O’Sullivan has decided to rest his top team for their last match against Italy, which is only four days away.

Form: The biggest story of the World Cup so far has been the Wallabies famous 15-6 loss to Ireland last Saturday. It was a disjointed and ill-disciplined effort from the men in green and gold, and they deserved to go down to an Irish side that simply wanted it more. The press has lambasted the Australians since, some going as far as to say that they cant win the World Cup. But it is far too early to write off a team that has performed so well this year. USA are coming off an emotional victory over World Cup debutant’s Russia. The victory was only the third win for the Eagles’ at a World Cup, and it came off the back a strong performance against Ireland. The most pleasing part of the Americans game so far has been their organised defence, and it will need to be at its best against one of the best teams in the world.

Prediction: Australia will be fired up after the loss to Ireland, and will want to prove a point here to get the public back on board. The side Deans has named should easily do the job against a painfully understrength USA side. Could get embarrassing for the Americans if they cant slow the Wallabies ball at the breakdown.
Australia by 50

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley Cooper, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Robert Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper 9 Will Genia (capt), 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Ben McCalman 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Pat McCabe.

USA: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Colin Hawley, 13 Tai Enosa, 12 Junior Sifa, 11 Kevin Swiryn, 10 Nese Malifa, 9 Tim Usasz (capt), 8 JJ Gagiano, 7 Pat Danahy, 6 Inaki Basauri, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Scott LaValla, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Shawn Pittman.
Replacements: 16 Brian McClenahan, 17 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 18 Louis Stanfill, 19 Nic Johnson, 20 Mike Petri, 21 Roland Suniula, 22 Chris Wyles.

By Alex Barlow-Smith