Ashton returns to face Wallabies
Rugby:Chris Ashton is back to haunt Australia after being recalled to the England side for Saturday’s Cook Cup showdown at Twickenham. Ashton’s inclusion on the right wing, with Charlie Sharples switching to the left in place of Ugo Monye, is the only change to the England side that beat Fiji 54-12 last week.
The Saracens wing missed England’s opening autumn test through suspension — but he returns to face the Wallabies, against whom he has scored three tries in three tests. Ashton scored his first test try in England’s 21-20 victory in Sydney on the 2010 summer tour and he touched down twice in a record 35-18 win at Twickenham the following autumn.
The second of those efforts, finished by Ashton after England launched a counter-attack from behind their own line, has gone down in the annals as one of the great Twickenham tries. Ashton is England’s most potent attacking threat and he will consider a game against the injury-hit Wallabies as the perfect opportunity to break his international try duck for 2012.
England go into the game as favourites as they target a third consecutive victory over Australia, a run of success they have not enjoyed since winning the World Cup in 2003. The Wallabies were on the receiving end of a 33-6 thumping in France last weekend and they head to Twickenham without the injured trio David Pocock, Kane Douglas and Pat McCabe plus the suspended Rob Simmons.
Australia coach Robbie Deans has been able to recall wing Digby Ioane, fullback Berrick Barnes and prop Ben Alexander. Lancaster had considered making changes to all three rows of the scrum but he resisted the temptation to rush prop Alex Corbisiero back from injury.
Wasps lock Tom Palmer has retained his place in the second row with his club-mate Joe Launchbury again on the bench. Thomas Waldrom continues at number eight and Tom Johnson starts again on the blindside, with Tom Wood once again primed to come off the bench.
Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi combine again in midfield after Jonathan Joseph, who has also just returned from injury, was released with Corbisiero to play for London Irish this weekend. And Alex Goode will look to build on the promising creative partnership he struck up with outhalf Toby Flood in the Fiji game, offering England a second play-making option from fullback.
England:A Goode; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, C Sharples; T Flood, D Care; J Marler, T Youngs, D Cole, T Palmer, G Parling, T Johnson, C Robshaw (capt), T Waldrom. Replacements:D Paice, D Wilson, M Vunipola, J Launchbury, T Wood, B Youngs, O Farrell, M Brown.
Australia:B Barnes; D Ioane, A Ashley-Cooper, B Tapuai, N Cummins; K Beale, N Phipps; B Robinson, T Polota Nau, B Alexander; S Timani, N Sharpe (capt); D Dennis, M Hooper, W Palu. Replacements:S Moore, J Slipper, S Kepu, R Samo, L Gill, B Sheehan, M Harris, D Mitchell.