England vs Samoa: Youth Movement to Shine in Final Test5 min read
Eddie Jones maintained his perfect record against Australia in dramatic style last week as a full-strength England ran away in the final ten minutes.
This week, Jones has made a clear effort to explore just how deep his squad is as England take on struggling Samoa in what should be a final confidence booster before next year’s Six Nations.
— England Rugby (at 🏠) (@EnglandRugby) November 23, 2017
Six players under 25 feature in the starting line-up; but even so England are over 30-point favourites and can be expected to put on a show at Twickenham.
We’ve broken down the key position battles for Saturday’s clash, and provide betting tips for England’s final game of 2017.
The front five impressed for England against tough opposition last week, but has seen a serious shake up. 22-year-old Ellis Genge starts at prop, and Saracen Jamie George finally gets his start in England’s No.2 shirt. Bath’s Charlie Ewels, also 22, starts in the second row alongside last week’s man of the match Joe Launchbury.
It’s tough to say exactly how it will work, as we really have nothing to go on; but with the experience of Dan Cole, George, and Launchbury to lean on; my guess is the pack will be just fine.
Samoa have uncharacteristically looked vulnerable to driving mauls and power based rugby this Autumn, so don’t be surprised if a few of the big men cross the line.
My favourite move Jones has made this week is moving Maro Itoje to flanker. He has been a force of nature playing on the back row for Saracens and I expect him to have a huge game in a more open position.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Sam Simmonds get his first England start, filling in for Nathan Hughes at No.8, and Chris Robshaw reprises his role as co-captain of the side.
This is the most exciting area of the England side and has been for all three tests. Samoa’s back row are physical ball carriers that will test the youth of the squad, but I believe Itoje and Simmonds will shine.
Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph have been rested here to make way for youngsters Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade, who have both been in superb form in the Premiership.
Also look out for Semesa Rokoduguni, who will come off the bench to finish the game on the wing. He has been an elite closer for Bath, and with fresh legs should be able to make a real impact.
Samoa’s game against Scotland is the best barometer to go by here. As they did to Finn Russell and co.; they will try and speed the ball up and play fast across the field to test England’s communication and athleticism. It will surely be an entertaining game, but as you may have picked up from the tone of this piece, England should comfortably put points on the board.
Personally, I believe the pace of the game will suit George Ford and Alex Lozowski to the tee.
Samoa first half handicap +16
Alex Lozowski anytime try scorer
Jamie George anytime try scorer
Semesa Rokoduguni last try scorer