England fought back from a 10-0 deficit to beat the Wallabies 39-28 in Brisbane on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
England have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series against Australia. They have recorded their eighth straight win, and their first ever victory in Brisbane. They have maintained their unbeaten record under Eddie Jones, who took the head coaching reins in the buildup to the 2016 Six Nations.
England’s performance against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium was a statement in itself. Flyhalf Owen Farrell managed the game well and converted nine of his 10 shots on goal. He had the benefit of playing behind an England pack that was dominant at the set pieces and collisions.
England were forced to show some character in the early stages of the contest. The Wallabies enjoyed nearly 80% of the possession and territory in the first quarter. The hosts played the game at speed, and a sustained assault on the England tryline yielded two five-pointers.
When the visitors did obtain possession and territory, they made it count. They employed a direct approach, and it began to pay dividends.
The Wallabies battled to live with England at the breakdown, and Farrell punished their transgressions with his accurate kicking boot. In the 32nd minute, Jonathan Joseph scored a try that changed the complexion of the game.
The England defence pressured the Wallabies attack. The hosts made a couple of costly errors. Israel Folau threw a wayward pass that Bernard Foley only managed to propel towards his own tryline. Samu Kerevi failed to recover the bouncing ball, and Joseph reacted by kicking it ahead, and then controlling it to score.
A conversion by Farrell completed a spell of play that saw the visitors scoring 16 unanswered points. England won a scrum penalty on the stroke of half-time, and Farrell bisected the uprights to give his team a 19-13 lead at the break.
A converted try in the 46th minute saw England stretching their lead to 13 points. And then in the 54th minute, when Wallabies prop Scott Sio was yellow-carded for repeated infringements at scrum time, England looked to have a big win in their sights.
The Wallabies came back strongly in the final quarter. Michael Hooper scored his second try of the evening. Tevita Kuridrani showed his power from close range to give the hosts a chance. Foley, who hadn’t had a good first half with the boot, found his range and nailed two important goal kicks.
The scoreboard read 32-25 to England with less than nine minutes remaining in the game. Incredibly, the Wallabies had the chance to snatch a draw.
England maintained their composure in the dying moments. They managed to win possession, and then take play deep into Wallabies territory.
A great cross-kick by George Ford set up a try for replacement winger Jack Nowell. Farrell nailed the conversion from the touchline to complete a stunning win for the visitors.
Wallabies – Tries: Michael Hooper (2), Israel Folau, Tevita Kuridrani. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalties: Foley (2).
England – Tries: Jonathan Joseph, Marland Yarde, Jack Nowell. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3). Penalties: Farrell (6).
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 James Horwill, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Sean McMahon, 22 Nick Frisby, 23 Christian Leali'ifano.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images