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Australia win the toss & elected to bat on a damp pitch ...hang on
I agree - Pocock's influence to this Australian side is vital, as is Ioane's. I don't have a problem with Barnes starting at 12 (I think both McCabe and Anthony Fa'ainga are pretty average centes so he doesn't exactly have much competition) although I've been saying for a while that JOC would be better utilised at 12 than his wing spot. When Ioane's back I'd start JOC at 12, with AAC at 13, and Mitchell and Ioane on the wing.Barnes needs to play with, ideally, AAC outside him. He should slot in at 12 and inter-change, IMO, with Cooper at 1st 5. The real issue though is the Australian forwards, Pocock has to return and enough has to be done for parity with the South African forwards. Frankly, I am doubtful that I will see this happening.
Australia had best pray that Italy pulls off an upset against Ireland.
Oh of course, Italy's dominance has to be taken with the mindset that the US have constantly struggled with the scrum throughout the tournament. But its certainly not the first time Italy have come through matches, even against the very top tier of nations, and impressed with their scrummaging.Without having seen it, I wouldn't pay much attention to the Italian scrum's performance in that particular game. The US have been beyond a joke at set pieces all tournament.