Lawes are relaxed as England start preparations for Georgia

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For an offence that carries a maximum penalty of a 12-game ban, Courtney Lawes can count himself lucky this morning.

The Northampton lock has been handed a two-game ban following his clash with Argentina’s Mario Ledesma, meaning Lawes misses the games with Georgia and Romania.

Lawes will be back in contention for the Scotland game on October 1 and while England coach Martin Johnson has expressed his disappointment at the charge, really England have got away with it.

Georgia will provide a powerful test for the England pack when the two teams meet on Sunday but England will be heavily favoured to win and Johnson is likely to give his second string a run out in Dunedin.

Lawes would have been unlikely to feature in the game anyway and the following game against Romania is England’s easiest game in the group.

Having struggled against Argentina, Johnson will be looking to freshen up the side for the match against Georgia as his side look to send out a statement of intent following a disappointing weekend for the home nations.

Wales may have put in a strong performance against South Africa but ultimately they lost, and the performances by England, Ireland and Scotland were hardly anything worth noting.

The northern hemisphere sides are looking very vulnerable at the moment and on the basis of the opening round of pool matches, the southern hemisphere teams are the sides to concentrate on when looking for the winner.

Scotland play their second pool match tomorrow night against Georgia and are 1/12 to win.

Having struggled up front against Romania, the Scotland pack is in for another tough time against Georgia and with the handicap mark set at 19 points it may be worth siding with the Georgians at 1/1 with a +19 start.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.