England seek to snatch their own #RWC2015 crumbs
England take on Uruguay in the final game of Pool A with nothing at stake except pride.
MANCHESTER - What could and should have been a rousing finale, where a win or a Six Nations-style chase for 50 points would send England into the World Cup quarter-finals, is now not even the biggest rugby match in Manchester on Saturday.
England take on Uruguay in the final game of Pool A with nothing at stake except pride and the opportunity for some fringe players to enhance their reputations.
Yet if Chris Robshaw had opted for a shot at goal, and Owen Farrell had landed it, to secure a draw with Wales instead of a 28-25 defeat two weeks ago, England might still have been alive and kicking in the group of death even after being well beaten by Australia.
A Wallabies win over Wales, or even a draw, at Twickenham on Saturday would have left the door open for England when they concluded group proceedings a few hours later at Manchester City's stadium.
For the thousands of fans who have paid hundreds of pounds for a rare glimpse of the national team in the north of the country, that "what if" question will remain the night's major talking point -- along with rugby league's grand final taking place across the city at Old Trafford two hours earlier.
England's coaches and players, of course, will have to bury such thoughts and they have spent the week trying to convince the world, and probably themselves, that this is a game from which they can extract some small consolation from the wreckage of the country's first pool-stage exit.
"We have to come out and wear the white shirt with pride and put in a good performance." lock Joe Launchbury said.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster has made nine changes from the team beaten by Australia, with an exciting looking backline featuring George Ford, Owen Farrell, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson and Alex Goode, with Jonathan Joseph on the bench.
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