POOL B – ENGLAND vs SCOTLAND
Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 1st Oct 8:30pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 128, England 68, Scotland 42, Drawn 18
Last meeting: England 22 beat Scotland 16 in London 2011
Last meeting at a World Cup: England 9 beat Scotland 6 in Edinburgh (Semi-final 1991)
Team news: Martin Johnson has named the best side for this match, which was expected. Courtney Lawes regains his place in the side after serving his two match ban, while wing Delon Armitage and prop Matt Stevens have been named in the only other two changes in the side. Scotland coach Andy Robinson has made six changes to the side that went down by one point to Argentina. Captain Alistair Kellock comes back in the second-row after missing the last two matches. While the changes in the backs bring size and power to counter an English strength.
Form: England is still working their way into some true form, the demolition job they did on Romania can not be taken into account as they were missing most of their top experienced players. When England get going they can beat anyone in world rugby, but some of the performances in this World Cup have much to be desired. On the upside the form of winger Chris Ashton has been outstanding, he is always buzzing around the ball his finishing is top class. Ashton could be the best winger going around at the moment. Scotland came as close as you can get to securing a place in the play-offs against Argentina, the defensive lapse to let in the try to Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino will haunt the players and fans for years if the Scots fail to beat England. Scotland just have not been able to get out of first gear, the grinding play they excel at was perfect for the conditions last Sunday, but they could not put in an 80 minute effort.
Prediction: Scotland always step up against England in sport, and the rugby team epitomises this trait. No matter what form the team is in or who is in the paddock, the players seem to grow an extra leg. Something the Scots will definitely have to do in this match as England is a far better team on paper. Courtney Lawes gives England some x-factor in the pack, his aggressive play on defence and attack is something that has been missing in the past two games. Scotland will come out strong, and need to score some points early to give themselves some confidence. If the English can keep them out in the first quarter then they could be comfortable winners.
England by 12
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 James Haskell, 7 Lewis Moody (capt), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Nick Easter, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Matt Banahan
Scotland: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Max Evans, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Sean Lamont, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 John Barclay, 6 Ally Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock (capt), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Nick de Luca.
By Alex Barlow-Smith