Rugby Union

England vs Samoa: Match Preview

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George Ford will make his first start for England at fly-half against Samoa on Saturday.

England are on a poor run of five matches without a win, their worst form for eight years, and coach Stuart Lancaster has rung the changes for their penultimate game of the Autumn.

Lancaster's critics

Despite a narrow defeat to South Africa last week, the critics are out for Lancaster’s men, with the World Cup just around the corner.

21-year-old Ford’s move to number 10 sees Owen Farrell switch to centre - the pair have played together through the England junior teams and even spent time at the same school practicing their kicks.

As England U20 teammates, they won the Six Nations Grand Slam and reached the U20 World Cup final, but Saturday will be the first time the combination will be tried at senior level.

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Ford's control

Lancaster will be specifically looking Ford to control the game, and it's an opportunity after Farrell's showings against New Zealand and the Springboks.

He told the BBC: "It's about George taking control and running the ship as he wants to run it

"He is ready to take the lead role and I'm sure he will do it well.”

Ford will also be reunited with former Leicester colleague Ben Youngs, who has been recalled to the side at scrum-half to replace an out-of-form Danny Care. He has gone back to Harlequins for Premiership fixtures.

Elsewhere Rob Webber, Ben Morgan and James Haskell have also been given starting roles against a Samoa side who have only lost one of their last five matches.

Poor record

Lancaster’s record against the southern hemisphere heavyweights is poor (just two wins in their last 13 against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) putting pressure on England to build some confidence ahead of the last test against the Aussies next week.

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