League: History suggests epic encounter

By James Graham

In 2006, Willie Mason went blow to blow with Stuart Fielden. England won.

In the 2003 Ashes series, Adrian Morley was sent off after just 12 seconds for his flying, and high, tackle onf Robbie Kearns. England lost.

There's a fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness, as Kiwis centre Steve Matai has found out throughout his career, but the Kangaroos are preparing for a confrontational match when the two sides meet in the World Cup tonight.

"I think [England coach] Tony Smith will encourage a confrontational test match, a traditional test match, where there's a big start to the game," Australian coach Ricky Stuart told reporters. "That's the way we will be preparing, and I think it will be a very physical game.

"I think it will be a different game than we played in our first game

against New Zealand where I found New Zealand really wanted to just hit the ground, play the ball quickly and roll on with the game.

"I think with the English team it will be a traditional test match _ just because of some of the forwards they have and the experience they've got. Adrian Morley, for example, he's

passionate towards his jumper, and

his confrontational type of football

will, I think, be spread right through the team."

Stuart's done lots of thinking, then.

It's not just Morley who can intimidate. The England forward pack also boasts skipper Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield, Wests Tigers recruit Gareth

Ellis, Wigan enforcer Gareth Hock, as well as St Helens prop James Graham, who many believe is the world's best front-row forward.

England will need to improve markedly from their scratchy 32-22 first-up win over Papua New Guinea last weekend. Smith has kept faith

with his players, making only one

enforced change with Mark Calderwood coming in for the injured Lee Smith on the wing.

"The players needed a run last week, and if I made drastic changes the next team would need a run," he said. "We've reviewed the game and we really weren't as bad as some people have made out. The Kumuls were terrific and we did a lot of good things.

"We're a bit disappointed at being split a few times in some of our defence and trying to force tries a few times and pushing things a bit too much. So we've spent a fair amount of time this week trying to fix that up."

They're also slightly peeved about being rated as the tournament's third favourites, behind Australia and New Zealand, despite recording a 3-0 series whitewash over the Kiwis last year.

Australia have been trying to downplay their favouritism after their impressive 30-6 demolition of the Kiwis last weekend, and none more so than skipper Darren Lockyer.

"There's a lot of pressure on us," he said. "But the other countries will get better each week. You've got to encourage them not to believe what they read.

"We had a good win on the weekend and we enjoyed that but if you ever get too ahead of yourself or too confident, it won't take much for it to come back and bite you."

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