How England can beat Australia

Here’s some sobering stats to look at: England haven’t beaten Australia since 1995 in the opening game of the World Cup.

On that day the hosts prevailed 20-16 over the Kangaroos at Wembley with the likes of Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell and Kris Radlinski starring.

As Great Britain the last victory over the Aussies came a decade ago, in Sydney. On that famous night, when Sean Long was on fire and Willie Mason came to blows with seveal opponents, GB fought back to notch a famous 23-12 win.

Since then nothing.

England have come close, most notably in the 2014 Four Nations with a Ryan Hall finger-tip, and in the 2013 World Cup when only eight points separated the two teams in Cardiff, but no cigar.

Now the two national teams meet for the first time with Australian Wayne Bennett at the helm.

England have to win or draw to stay alive in the Four Nations. On current form, with the Kangaroos beating the Scots and Kiwis, and England struggling to put Scotland away early, it’s hard to see.

But all is not lost. There’s the unpredictability of sport, which is why we love it.

In the past decade New Zealand have shown that the Australians are beatable, that they can be toppled. England can take some solace, and some tips, from Kiwi success in recent years.

Here’s how England can defeat the Kangaroos:

– Be physical, direct and unrelenting. England has a big pack and thar needs to be take advantage of. Aim their huge props at Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, tiring them at every opportunity. Aim for quick play the balls and to keep the ball alive. The Kangaroos play a very structured game and mixing up the attack could wreak some benefits.

– Start strong. England started against New Zealand well, but poorly against France and Scotland, who both scored first. The Wall of White can’t afford to let the Kangaroos build an early lead, they can’t afford to play catch up.

– Frustrate JT. The Wests Tigers showed earlier this year how to contain the mercurial halfback. Get in his face, close down his space and stop his forwards getting quick the play the balls. Slow down the ruck and don’t fall for his dummies. Thurston loves to play off quick ball, so working hard at the ruck and as a united defensive live is vital. No shooting off the line like Kevin Sinfield did on Shaun Johnson in 2013.

– Spread the ball. The Aussies are supremely organised and structured. Getting into the grind with them and going set for set is a recipe for disaster for England. So they need to move the ball wide when it is on. Don’t be afraid to spread it, whether it be on the second tackle or the third. Kallum Watkins has hardly touched the ball in the Four Nations so far and he needs to be fed early. Varying their attacking options is a way to pose some doubt in the Aussie defensive line. Running straight for five tackles and then kicking won’t do it. Getting Daryl Clark and Josh Hodgson on the field at the same time, with Clark at loose forward, will help.

– Kick well. England needs a fautless kicking game, both at the tee and in play, to defeat the Kangaroos. Penalties and conversions need to be nailed, and goal-line dropouts forced. With Cameron Smith, Thurston and Cronk Australia‘s kicking game will be near pefect, so England‘s has to be as well.

– Stay composed. This is likely to be a tight game with few points scored, just like in Huddersfield against the Kiwis and in Coventry in the trans-Tasman clash. So England need to keep their heads for the full 80 minutes and not lose control. There will be things that won’t go their way, calls that will frustrate them. But they need to stay calm, cool and collected and not panic.

– Get a slice of luck. Cross fingers, toes and eveything else. Steer clear of breaking windows, black cats and walking under ladders.

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