England vs Australia: Six reasons why England can beat the Wallabies and reach the RWC 2015 quarter-finals

England are in the last chance saloon, but here's a few reasons to be optimistic ahead of tonight's showdown

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The Independent Online

England face a monumental task to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals as they must beat Australia at Twickenham or else face the embarrassing prospect of early elimination.

No side named solely as a World Cup host has been eliminated at the end of the pool stage, and if England suffer defeat to the Wallabies, they will have no mathematical chance of reaching the last eight as Australia will join Wales in progressing from Pool A.

But here’s a few reasons for the red rose to be optimistic heading into the match.

Jonathan Joseph is back from injury

One player doesn’t make a team, but they can lift a side just by their presence. Jonathan Joseph has the ability to do just that, and his attacking threat will at least pose questions to Australia’s defence that they won’t have faced had Joseph failed to recover from the pectoral injury that kept him out of the Wales clash.

The Bath centre may not have his club colleague George Ford inside him, but he can still dance his way around opposite number Tevita Kuridrani if given the chance, and if Owen Farrell cane find a way to get the ball to him in space Joseph can bring Twickenham to its feet.

Australia struggle against England at Twickenham

In their last four encounters at HQ, England have emerged victorious on three occasions, and they also picked up an impressive 21-20 victory when the teams last met Down Under in 2010. The home fans know this, and love to get behind their side with a cacophony of noise when the Wallabies come to town.

With the sole defeat to Australia in their last five encounters coming in 2012 when Chris Robshaw’s decision-making as skipper came under intense scrutiny, England will hope to respond in similar fashion as they did that year. Two weeks later they beat the All Blacks.

Scrum mentality is half the battle won

Australia’s coaching staff may be talking up a strong game in the scrum, but the only man whose opinion will matter will be the referee, Romain Poite. The Frenchman likes the sound of his own whistle, and if he believes that Messrs Marler, Youngs and Cole have the nudge in the front-row battle, he won’t think twice in penalising the Wallabies should they infringe in the scrum.

Penalties bring points, and with Farrell in the side England can expect a healthy dose from his ultra-reliable boot. The task though is getting Poite on their side. Lose the first scrum and it could be a long, disappointing day.

England didn’t play badly against Wales

Many were left scratching their heads long after Wales had left London as to how England had conspired to lose the match. Their first-half showing was very impressive to dominate the Welsh, and they just seemed to lose their way after the break that ultimately cost them the result. If they are able to reproduce that first-half showing over the full 80 minutes, England can all but book their place in the quarter-finals.

Australia haven’t been tested yet

Australia’s only real test has come in trying to secure the bonus point against Fiji – which they failed to gain – and a comprehensive victory over Uruguay followed. But their two biggest tests lay ahead in England and Wales, and there’s a case to be argued that the Wallabies could be caught cold if England start like they did against Fiji and the Welsh.

Brad Barritt insist England will throw everything at Australia (sportbeat.co.uk)

Their World Cup fate remains in their own hands

The match has been billed as a last chance for Robshaw and Stuart Lancaster, but England must see the occasion as a chance to book their place in the quarter-finals. As Wales and Australia have already shown, a bonus-point victory should be a given against Pool A minnows Uruguay, and with one of Australia and Wales set to take points off the other, and England win tonight will almost guarantee progression.

Now that didn’t seem possible last Saturday night, did it?