England coach Stuart Lancaster is under more pressure than he can probably believe after overseeing two losses from three 2014 Autumn Internationals so far, and with a resurgent Australia up last, it’s not getting any easier for the Yorkshireman.
Here are our three best bets for the fixture, although England fans may want to look away now:
Since the shock departure of former coach Ewen McKenzie in October, Australia have begun to pick up the pieces under well-liked former Leinster and Stade Francais tactician Michael Cheika over the past few fixtures.
Wales were seen off 33-28 in Cardiff by the Wallabies in Cheika’s first Autumn Internationals fixture in charge, and subsequent three-point losses to a drastically improved France side and Ireland, who currently look the best team in the northern hemisphere by some distance, could have gone either way.
England are still experimenting ahead of next year’s Six Nations and home World Cup, with fly-half Owen Farrell, who seemed completely secure in his position 12 months ago, dropped from the XV.
A Red Rose front-row featuring second-string prop forwards Joe Marler and David Wilson will struggle for dominance against the Aussies, who have a raft of try-scoring threats in the pack, across the back-line and, crucially, on the bench.
Expect the visitors to edge this and keep the pressure on Lancaster, whose luck with injuries needs to change before the greatest rugby show on earth rolls around this time next year.
The visitors’ last six outings have been settled by a winning margin within these parameters, as have two of England’s last three tests.
With that stat in mind, taking 5/1 about another closer-than-close encounter rates as an extremely sensible course of action.
There may be a large element of knee-jerk about this bet, as Phipps has only gone over four times in 27 Wallabies appearances and has touched down nine times in four seasons of club rugby, which is nothing particularly special.
All that being said, the scrum-half scored two last time out against Ireland, who can defend a bit, so we may be witnessing the birth of an Aussie scoring sensation this autumn.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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