Rugby Union

Australia large favourites to win Rugby World Cup after dominant start

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Australia are in pole position to clinch top spot in the 'group of death' after a series of impressive displays against Fiji and Uruguay.

Australia opened their Rugby World Cup account with a controlled and somewhat reserved performance against Fiji last week at the Millennium Stadium.

David Pocock, Michael Hooper and co. certainly looked a class above the Pacific Islanders in their 28-13 victory - one which was not accompanied by a bonus point, unlike England on opening night.

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Australia have only lost twice at the home of Welsh rugby since its remodelling in 1999, and looked certain to reach that winning bonus point but failed to register a try within the closing 30 minutes.

The potent and trusted combination of Pocock and Hooper both starting in the back row gave the Wallabies an extra dimension that surely has to make them serious contenders to win the competition.

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Man-of-the-match Pocock looked back to his best as he dominated the breakdown and the tackle area, as well as crashing over for two tries off the back of the tournaments trademark rolling maul, whilst team-mate Hooper was in destructive form, making several meaty tackles.

Coach Michael Cheikha named a second-string side against minnows Uruguay, who looked equally as devastating in a 65-3 victory at Villa Park on Sunday.

Young captain Sean McMahon and Ben McCalmon were impressive with a brace each and explosive winger Drew Mitchell was a force scoring two of his own.

With Wales defying the odds and beating England at Twickenham, it makes pool A very interesting going into this week's matches.

Wales face Fiji in Cardiff on Thursday and the Aussies will collide with England at Twickenham on Saturday night knowing that if they can replicate Wales' feat, the hosts will be sent crashing out of their own tournament.

Cheikha will be confident of his side's ability to top the pool, as will most neutrals watching the competition.

The dominance they possess in the back row with Pocock and Hooper; the experience of their backs with the likes of Will Genia, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell; and the size and power of Tevita Kuridrani and talented Israel Folau, make for a team that surely believe they can win the competition.

Australia have not won the Webb Ellis Cup since 1999 when they beat France in the final, and with the squad they have at the moment will be looking to make history at Twickenham in a few weeks' time.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
Australia Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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