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Rugby World Cup 2011

Lewis Moody is set for an England return.

England lock Courtney Lawes has been handed a two-game ban after being found guilty of recklessly striking an opponent with his knee.

The 22-year-old Northampton lock will now miss the Pool B matches with Romania and Georgia, Rugby World Cup organisers have confirmed.

Lawes entered a not guilty plea when he appeared before a disciplinary hearing in Auckland on Tuesday after being cited for hitting Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma with his knee during Saturday’s 13-9 win in Dunedin.

The offence carries a guideline suspension of between three and 12 weeks, or matches in the World Cup context, but Lawes’ offence was deemed ‘low end’ and he will be free to play against Scotland in the final pool match in Auckland on October 1.

Manager Martin Johnson is confident Lewis Moody will be fit to lead England in place of Lawes.

The 33-year-old is now in line to take over the armband once again for Sunday’s showdown in Dunedin.

In Pool D, Wales coach Warren Gatland is not likely to make wholesale for his side’s clash with Samoa in Hamilton after their impressive display against South Africa.

Wales came agonisingly close to clinching a memorable victory against the defending world champions, losing by the narrowest of margins in Wellington on Sunday.

Gatland’s men were back on the training field on Tuesday following the 17-16 defeat, with an open practice watched by several hundred locals in Taupoon.

Tonga coach Isotolo Maka has made a host of changes for his side’s second World Cup Pool A clash with Canada on Wednesday.

With the contest coming just five days after their 41-10 loss to the All Blacks in the tournament opener, Maka has opted to make 11 alterations to the line-up and four positional switches.

The most notable of those sees Taniela Moa moved from scrum-half to fly-half with Kurt Morath shifted to full-back, while Perpignan prop Kisi Pulu is handed a starting spot.

The Pacific Islanders battled bravely in the second half of their defeat to New Zealand and will be keen to get on the board in a match they are favoured to win.

Canada, in contrast, will be playing in their first match of the tournament and coach Kieran Crowley says that winning the battle of the forwards will be key to his side’s chances.

The Canucks’ pack includes a strong back row of Adam Kleeburger, new Ospreys signing Chauncey O’Toole and Aaron Carpenter, a unit that will aim to take the physical sting out of their opposite numbers.

Andy Robinson hopes Scotland’s narrow escape against Romania will shock his side into action ahead of their clash with Georgia on Wednesday.

Georgia are a far trickier prospect than Romania, who almost caused a massive upset for Robinson’s men in the opening match of their World Cup campaign.

Scotland were severely stretched during the 34-24 victory and came within eight minutes of being held by the Pool B minnows.

And Robinson knows his side will need to be much better at Invercargill and is hoping that their last, near disastrous, outing will serve as a serious wake-up call for his players.


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