England thumped Australia 37-18 at Twickenham on Saturday to make a statement ahead of the 2019 World Cup. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result sees Eddie Jones’ England stretching their winning streak against Michael Cheika’s Australia to six. It may be stating the obvious, but England will head into the World Cup pool match against Australia next September with a massive psychological advantage.
As many as 10 Wallabies players complained of flu earlier in the week. Star loose forward David Pocock was withdrawn at the 11th hour due to an injury, while two more senior players in Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley Cooper were omitted due to a breach in team protocol.
The Wallabies’ fragile mindset was apparent in the early exchanges. Dayne Haylett-Petty’s attempted clearance kick was charged down. England hammered into Australia at the subsequent scrum, creating the space for Jonny May to score in the right-hand corner.
The hosts’ dominance at the scrums and breakdowns earned them further scoring opportunities. Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly missed two shots on goal between them, though, to let the visitors off the hook.
The quality of the Wallabies’ handling was nothing short of abysmal. Will Genia – playing in his 100th Test – threw a shocker of a pass after making an intercept that should have led to a try. The visitors had a try disallowed in the 27th minute after a pass by Haylett-Petty to Samu Kerevi was deemed forward – and rightly so.
Farrell had yet another chance to extend England’s lead before the break. This time, the skipper made it count.
But the Wallabies hit back in the 36th minute when Israel Folau cut back inside to beat two defenders and score. A shoulder charge by Farrell on Izack Rodda right on England’s line allowed the visitors to level the scores (13-13) before half-time.
As replays confirmed, Farrell was fortunate to concede a penalty rather than a yellow card. England were lucky that the officials opted against awarding Australia a penalty try.
The hosts – and Farrell – rode their luck. The England scrum fired to put the Wallabies under pressure. Then Farrell offloaded in the tackle to find Daly, who ran a great line to score.
Australia were found wanting once more on defence in the lead-up to Joe Cokanasiga’s try. The ball was moved quickly to the left wing, and Cokanasiga bounced off the tackle attempt of Haylett-Petty before racing through to complete the score. With Farrell’s conversion, England took control at 27-13.
May nearly snatched a second try to put the result beyond doubt. Replays confirmed, however, that the ball had brushed the touchline in the build-up to the score.
England would not be denied another score, though. Farrell crossed the line in the 76th minute, and then converted his own try to finish the game with a personal tally of 22 points.
Folau claimed his second try of the evening at the death. That score only served to add some respectability to the scoreline.
The result marks England’s third win in four Tests this November. The Wallabies will return to Australia with just the one victory over Italy to show for their northern tour efforts.
England – Tries: Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga, Owen Farrell. Conversions: Farrell (4). Penalties: Farrell (3).
Wallabies – Tries: Israel Folau (2). Conversion: Matt Toomua. Penalties: Toomua (2).
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Johnny May, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kyle Sinkler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ben Moon.
Subs: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels , 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Will Genia, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Sefa Naivalu, 23 Marika Koroibete.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images