Mon, Jun 21, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Wallabies eager to face England

AFP , SYDNEY AND BUENOS AIRES

New Zealand's Joe Rokocoko, right, leaps ahead of England's Josh Lewsey to catch the high ball and then score a try during a rugby union international at Eden Park in Auckland, Saturday. Rokocoko scored three tries as New Zealand won 36-12.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Eddie Jones concedes England have had the wood on the Wallabies in their last five encounters but it's something he's keen to rectify starting with Saturday's rugby showdown in Brisbane. Australians have been counting the days for the rematch after losing the World Cup final to a Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal in extra-time 20-17 here on Nov. 22 last year.

Injuries and retirements have subsequently taken their toll on Clive Woodward's men and they arrived in Australia late Sunday licking their wounds after two heavy defeats against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

The Australians pushed aside Six-Nations wooden-spooners Scotland in their two Tests, 35-15 in Melbourne and 34-13 here on Saturday, to fine-tune for England at Lang Park next Saturday.

The Wallaby coach says his players are ready to end a run of five defeats against Woodward's world champions.

"It's been well documented that it was their first championship since the 1966 [football] World Cup so it is enormously intense rivalry between us," Jones said after Saturday's Test victory.

"They've had the wood on us, they've won the last five games against us and we're looking forward to getting one back."

And to emphasis the prickly relationship between the rival coaches, Jones cheekily asked his post-match press conference: "Has anyone got the protocol on how we're supposed to speak to a knight?"

Woodward was knighted for services to rugby after guiding England to their World Cup triumph but this time problems are mounting for his team.

England lost 36-12 in Auckland on Saturday but played most of the game with 14 men after lock Simon Shaw was sent off early in the game. Jones gives little weight to England's latest loss.

"It's almost impossible to play rugby with 14 men. Today's result you can take nothing out of it at all," he said.

"Rugby is a game where you want 15 men on the field so today's result is of no consequence, we're looking forward to playing England."

But straight-shooting Jones won't hear of any suggestions that England are a jaded team coming after their northern season.

"We're hearing all these stories about England being tired -- well, we never hear that when we go over there in November," he said.

"This is the rugby season, you have internationals in June and you have internationals in November, so we're looking forward to playing them."

Jones may have taken a pot-shot, but he has deep respect for what England have achieved under the abrasive Woodward.

"In sporting contests, England are our traditional rivals, so with rugby it's been a pretty intense fight over the last few years with England doing so well," he said.

"They've been the best team in the world, they're the world champions so you don't get much more intense rivalry than that. Skipper George Gregan says the England match and all that goes with it was one marked down in the Wallabies' diaries for some time.

"The fact is that we're playing England in Australia and it's a match we've identified as one we want to really play well in," Gregan said.

WALES 35, ARGENTINA 20

A first-half hat-trick from flying winger Shane Williams secured Wales a 35-20 victory over Argentina despite a valiant second-half fightback from the home team.

Smarting from last week's 50-44 defeat in the first of the two-Test series, Wales streaked to a 25-0 lead at half-time but then saw captain Colin Charvis sinbinned for a second successive week and Argentina score 15 unanswered points.

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