English braced for Aussie flair


LONDON, November 12- England captain Lewis Moody believes his team must raise their game as they attempt to complete back-to-back victories over Australia at Twickenham here Saturday.

In what is being billed as a battle of English brawn versus Australian flair, Moody’s men are aiming to score their second consecutive win over the Wallabies after winning 21-20 in Sydney five months ago.

England produced an improved performance against the All Blacks in their opening autumn international last Saturday before eventually succumbing 26-16 to the powerful Tri-Nations champions.

But Moody believes England must take their game to yet another level if they are to prevent Australia from registering a hat-trick of away victories at Twickenham following wins in 2008 and 2009.

"We need to show we are a quality side," Moody said. "Australia are hungry for revenge after what was a tough game in Sydney.

"We are very excited about this game because we realise at the weekend we had an opportunity to beat the number one side in the world but we missed it because of a lack of composure.

"We were in the game to win it and the second half showed everyone the ability we have as a side. We realise we are a team that has to keep improving. Our aim is to keep getting better."

England manager Martin Johnson has blamed a slow start, unforced errors and a lack of finishing power for his team’s failure against the All Blacks.

"We can’t do that again against Australia," Johnson said. "You can’t let a team like that get a jump on you as they are very good.

"You have to be very sharp. They play with a huge amount of variation, maybe more than the All Blacks. You cannot say ‘this is what they are going to do’. They may do something different this week," he said.

England are likely to target Australia’s scrum in an effort to gain control. The Wallaby pack struggled against Wales last Saturday and only dazzling play by the Australian backline prevented defeat.

While England routed Australia’s scrum in consecutive Tests in June, the Wallabies eight which will take to the field on Saturday is a different proposition, boasting a front row bolstered by the return of Stephen Moore.

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree warned his team against taking Australia lightly.

"We’ve been here before. We’ve heard about this perceived dominance over Australia and then we’ve not delivered," Rowntree said.

"We’ve got a lot of respect for them, and Stephen Moore is a fantastic player. He will make a big difference and Wales did not have it all their own way on the weekend," he added.

In any event, Australia have shown that their effervescent back division — marshalled by the skilful fly-half Quade Cooper — is more than capable of winning a match even when forced to live off meagre possession.

Cooper was the architect of Australia’s first Test victory over England in Perth earlier this year, engineering a 27-17 victory even though the Wallabies scrum had been demolished.

"Quade Cooper is growing rapidly," said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. "We’ve got a lot of young blokes that have shown a lot of maturity.

"The more time they have spent in game, the faster they have learned. This group is settling in their combinations and game sense very quickly."

Deans also laughed off suggestions that the adventurous play of Australia’s backs gave his coaching team cause for concern.

"When the whistle blows, we back our boys and trust them," added Deans.

"God knows we’d love to be out there playing, but that is what the preparation through the week is for.

"We just strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride!"