England vs Samoa Preview

18 11 2010

Following on from last weekends fine exhibition of attacking, running rugby against the number two rated side in the world, comes what, in many ways, should be the easiest match of the Autumn for Martin Johnson’s England. With consistency and continued evidence of progress needed, England have resisted the lure of wholesale changes against what promises to be a tough Samoa side- instead opting for a handful of experiments that will give England added reason to be pleased should they come off.

At prop David Wilson comes in for Cole as Johnson gives the versatile prop a chance to start. Cole need not worry though – he has done more than enough to be first choice for some time to come. Fourie replaces Moody at 7 to win his second cap; another instance of Johnson wanting to have a look at what the back up is like. We are pleased to see James Haskell return as he is a man with undoubted talent although barring one or two occasions in this years 6 Nations he has failed to live up to the fans expectations. Croft drops to the bench for a rest although like the other players making way – he can be assured of a return against South Africa.

The interesting selection is that of Matt Banahan at 13 instead of Mike Tindall. Banahan is a player who, during his 5 caps gained over the past year, has not impressed upon us his international credentials. It is possible that our perception of him was a direct result of being associated with the two awful and dirge like affairs against Argentina last year as well as a couple of the less good 6 Nations matches and so, in the interests of being fair, we are looking forward to seeing him play – hopefully he can disprove this notion.

Apparently a quick player, although there has been little evidence in an England shirt so far, we would like to see this experiment work as good and experienced player as the current incumbent, Tindall, is – he can hardly be described these days as a dynamic force in the mold of Conrad Smith or even Max Evans.

Nick Easter has been given the captaincy for this match in a move that will please his many supporters. With few, if any, other players putting their hands up to fill the number eight role and with Easter being a solid, if limited, player it is perhaps no surprise to see Johnson continuing although we would have liked to see Haskell given an opportunity at the back of the scrum. Can anyone tell us where Dan Ward-Smith is? We’re assuming he’s injured as otherwise he might have got a game…

For Samoa this promises to be a difficult match now that England appear to be playing with skill, pace and intelligence. They have had a difficult tour so far having lost to Connaught and then had to play in horrific and alien conditions in Dublin. That they did well against Ireland, eventually only losing by 10 points, should ensure that England do not take them lightly.

With South Africa to come next week England will simply be glad to get through this match without injury – something that a match against the hard tackling and running South Sea islanders seems rarely to be without.

Prediction: England 38-13 Samoa

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