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Rupert Wyman 6th Nov 2009 - 17:59

England's backs can terrorise the Wallabies

The autumn internationals begin on Saturday and first up for England is the might of Australia at Twickenham. The Three Lions are weakened by injuries but the headline is the return of Jonny Wilkinson to the England side after an 18 month absence.

The fly half has been reinvigorated by his summer switch to Toulon. He looks as good as ever and will be hoping to inflict more misery on the Wallabies after his heroics in 2003 World Cup final down under.

Wilkinson is not the only member of the World Cup winning side to get a recall though as hooker Steve Thompson and flanker Lewis Moody also return. The former had retired from the game because of a neck injury but returned to the game after a second opinion and now he is set to perform on the biggest stage yet again.

In contrast to this trio the rest of the side primarily features inexperienced internationals. Shane Geraghty will make his first Test start as he has been picked at inside centre and he forms an exciting pairing with Wilkinson. Geraghty has been in fine form for Northampton this season and his playmaking skills will be crucial if England are to beat Australia.

Geraghty will be charged with giving quality ball to those outside him - centre Dan Hipkiss, wingers Mark Cueto & Matt Banahan and Ugo Monye, who starts in the unfamiliar position of full back.

If the backs are given the opportunities then we could be in for an entertaining game and a home win. I can see this happening, therefore the 11/8 about an England victory looks good value. If they are to win then the margin of victory is likely to be small so 1-5 points looks a good bet at 5/1.

With all England's flair out wide and Wilkinson likely to keep the scoring ticking over with his lethal boot then over 42 points in the total match points betting appears to be a good bet at evens.

Despite the preference for England it's Australia who start as 8/15 favourites in the match betting with a draw an 18/1 shot.

The match should be a good test of England's credentials as despite Australia losing six of their last seven Tests (the losses coming against South Africa and New Zealand) they still remain a strong outfit.

Their coach, Robbie Deans, is a man under pressure after the failings in the Tri Nations. To make matters worse he'll be without normal centre pairing, Berrick Barnes and Stirling Mortlock, with inexperienced duo Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane stepping into their shoes - this has to be an area that England will look to exploit.

It will be up to the Wallabies' forwards to get the ball to the backs and, if they do, the likes of Matt Giteau could hurt the Three Lions.

However, the flair in England's backline has the potential to do more damage to Australia than vice versa, so the Three Lions are the ones to be on.

Wilkinson should inspire a great performance from England and improve his personal record against Australia to seven wins in a row.



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