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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 03:06 GMT
Rugby World Cup back pages
After the briefest of ceasefires, the Australian press have launched yet another attack on "boring" England ahead of Saturday's World Cup final.

The Times: England bored by the sniping but buoyed by the challenge
The Australian: Jones won't be caught out wide
Daily Mail: They're scared of him
Sydney Morning Herald: Are Poms the new Australia?
Daily Express: Last stand of the golden oldies
Herald Sun: Why we hate England
The Guardian: While one England prepares for a World Cup final, for the other it's business as usual
Australian Daily Telegraph: Grumpy old men
Daily Mirror: Is that all you've got?
The West Australian: Gregan promises to zip his mouth
The Sun: Bore war
Daily Star: Mart's too smart for Pommie bashers
The Daily Telegraph: Johnson adds own drop of wisdom
The Independent: Mitchell orders All Blacks to salvage wounded pride

Despite Australia scoring only one try against New Zealand last weekend, the Aussie media have seen fit to step up their campaign against England's reliance on Jonny Wilkinson's boot.

At the forefront of the tirade is the Sydney Morning Herald, whose reporter confronted Wilkinson in a 'Stop Jonny' T-shirt before asking Martin Johnson whether he thought England were "killing rugby"?

Big Jonno padded the question to one side with ease before launching a six over the reporter's head with the comment: "Australia scored one interception try and five penalties in their semi-final and they played brilliantly."

The Times illustrates the continued media sniping with a picture of a notice posted on Manly beach which reads: 'Warning: Boring rugby teams train here'.

But despite the constant onslaught, England are refusing to risk a repeat of 1991, when criticism of their forward dominated game led to them changing their style - and ultimately losing out to the Wallabies at Twickenham 12-6.

The softly, softly approach seems to be working well thus far, even if The Mirror has clearly had enough.

"Is that all YOU'VE got?' the newspaper asks above a picture of Kylie Minogue's impressive derriere, in parody of the Sydney Morning Herald's earlier criticism of England's reliance on Wilkinson.

"Paranoid Aussies are up to their old tricks again," the paper states. "The fearful hosts are talking down Clive Woodward's squad in every way they can."

In retaliation, the Australian Daily Telegraph has opted to concentrate on as what is regarded as yet another England failing.

"They are an ageing pack, and that has to be a factor," recently retired Wallabies star Toutai Kefu is quoted as saying.

"The Pommy forwards love nothing better than keeping it tight so they don't have to cover too many kilometres."

Elsewhere, Kefu dispenses with the pleasantries altogether.

In a Herald Star article imaginatively titled 'Why we hate England', the former Wallaby number eight revisits England's 21-15 victory two year's ago at Twickenham and suggests the current commotion is all Matt Dawson's fault.

"Dan Luger scored a controversial try in the corner," he remembers. [But] what made it worse was England scrum-half Dawson's little display.

"He turned, gave us the raised fist and, in so many words, told us to 'cop that'.

"They have never been humble winners, and Dawson proved it that day. They can be arrogant. There is this cockiness about some of them that rubs us up the wrong way."

Australians describing the English as arrogant? Some things never change, though there is evidence the Aussie press are finally running scared.

Victory for England on Saturday would, according to the Sydney Morning Herald "validate a truth indicated by the past two seasons of competition - England are the new Wallabies".

There can be no higher praise down under.

The gossip column
19 Nov 03  |  Football

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