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Wilson aims to "sweeten" series


David Wilson is aiming to end the autumn internationals on a high for England with victory over Australia

David Wilson is aiming to end the autumn internationals on a high for England with victory over Australia

David Wilson is aiming to end the autumn internationals on a high for England with victory over Australia

David Wilson has urged England to end a frustrating autumn on a high by overcoming World Cup group rivals Australia in Saturday's final QBE International at Twickenham.

A flawed 28-9 victory over Samoa has eased the pressure building after five successive defeats, albeit each of them inflicted by southern hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand and South Africa.

Autumn respectability now hinges on the outcome against the Wallabies with victory offering a measure of redemption after the losses to the All Blacks and Springboks and defeat amplifying talk of a crisis 10 months out from the World Cup.

Wilson understands the stakes are high but feels England will benefit from having spent a fifth week together as they seek to land a psychological blow on their old foes ahead of their seismic Group A showdown at Twickenham on October 3 next year.

"We've played some quality sides in New Zealand and South Africa and we're disappointed to have lost," Bath tighthead prop Wilson said.

"The pressure is on to win every international, but if we beat Australia it would make the autumn a lot sweeter.

"We've performed well but haven't done well enough to be on the right side of the scoreboard.

"Beating Samoa will have eased the nerves a bit and the longer you're in camp together the better you get to know each other.

"The Rugby Championship teams touring here have been together for three months now, which helps them.

"Now we've had that time together we have more of a club feel and things get easier to sort out."

England will enter the climax to the autumn hoping to squeeze Australia at the set-piece and dominate them at the breakdown, denying the dazzling Wallabies three-quarters the quick ball on which they thrive.

The scrum remains the tourists' Achilles heal and their head coach Michael Cheika has also admitted opponents feel they can be out-muscled, compelling him to call for his players to "harden-up" in the wake of Saturday's 26-23 defeat by Ireland.

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree believes "canny" Australia will use their cunning to even the odds and Wilson is adamant they will be a force when they pack down.

"Australia are very good tacticians at the scrum. They'll come up with anything to get the edge. I'm sure they'll have a few tricks up their sleeves," Wilson said.

"They're not a weak side at the set piece, they're no mugs. They'll be well drilled. They scrummaged well in parts against Ireland and Wales and I'm sure they'll give us a good run for our money.

"You target the set piece in every single game because you want to starve them of as much ball as possible. Australia are a good side with the ball in hand.

"We can't take a backwards step and think it's an easy day at the office because if we do we'll get stuffed.

"We've been quite consistent at the set-piece so far and that's what we'll keep striving to do. You can't win an international with 50 per cent set piece, so we will have to be right up there."

Head coach Stuart Lancaster names his starting XV on Thursday morning with all eyes on his selection at inside centre, where Billy Twelvetrees is expected to replace Owen Farrell.

Farrell has underperformed throughout the autumn and is likely to be dropped by England for the first time in more than two years as a consequence with George Ford continuing at fly-half following his impressive full debut against Samoa.

Tom Wood is in line to replace James Haskell at blindside flanker and Dylan Hartley will start ahead of Rob Webber after being axed for receiving a brainless yellow card against South Africa. Haskell and Webber would drop to the bench.