England beat Australia 44-40 in a nine-try thriller in Sydney on Saturday to secure a famous 3-0 series win, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Having claimed their first away Test-series victory against one of the big three southern hemisphere rugby nations last weekend, you wouldn't have blamed England for failing to lift themselves for this dead-rubber match, which came at the end of a 12-month European season.
But England are a different beast under coach Eddie Jones, who selected his best side for this Test in a bid to win the series 3-0. And they did, to extend their winning streak to 10 Tests, including nine under Jones.
For the Wallabies, it is the first time in 45 years that they have lost their first three Tests of a season.
While Australia outscored their opponents five tries to four, they conceded too many penalties inside their half and England flyhalf Owen Farrell made them pay.
England showed from the start that they would be up for this match.
After a patient buildup, Mako Vunipola broke through a tackle before being brought down a metre short of the tryline. Ben Youngs then did well to commit the fringe defenders at the ruck and put Dan Cole over for a converted try in the 10th minute.
It didn't take long for the Wallabies to level the scores. Dane Haylett-Petty appeared to knock on near halfway, but while referee Nigel Owens put his arm out towards England he didn't blow his whistle and allowed play to continue. Israel Folau picked up the loose ball and found Matt Toomua, who sprinted down the left-hand touchline before passing back inside to Bernard Foley. The flyhalf scored the try, with Owens then going up to the TMO, who correctly ruled that Maro Itoje had knocked the ball out of Haylett-Petty's hands.
The hosts hit the front at the end of the first quarter, with quick hands putting Haylett-Petty over in the right-hand corner for his first Test try. Foley missed the conversion, with the flyhalves then exchanging penalties.
England regained the lead just before the half-hour mark when they attacked down the blindside and Anthony Watson kicked infield. The ball sat up perfectly for Mike Brown and while the fullback was tackled just short of the tryline, his momentum carried him over. Farrell slotted the conversion to make it 17-15.
Foley then missed a long-range penalty attempt, but slotted an easier one after the half-time hooter to edge his side back in front.
The Wallabies made a poor start to the second half when Stephen Moore's lineout throw went too high and into the hands of Chris Robshaw. While the hosts were able to hold the flanker up over the line, Billy Vunipola broke away from the resultant 5m scrum to score his side's third try. Farrell missed the conversion but kicked a penalty to put England ahead 25-18.
The Wallabies responded with a match-levelling converted try to Michael Hooper who, after being tackled by two defenders, was able to reach out and place the ball on the chalk.
A scrum penalty allowed Farrell to kick his third penalty, but the Wallabies struck again when Matt Toomua broke through two tackles and put Folau away for a converted try that made it 32-28 after 58 minutes.
The to-and-fro nature of the game continued when England scored their fourth try in fortuitous fashion. Danny Care's pass failed to find George Ford, instead going forward off the leg of replacement hooker Jamie George, who dived on the loose ball to give his side a 38-32 lead.
Farrell and Foley exchanged penalties, before the former kicked another with a minute remaining to put the result beyond doubt.
Replacement wing Taqele Naiyaravoro dived over in the last play of the game, but it was scant consolation for the humiliated hosts.
Wallabies – Tries: Bernard Foley, Dane Haylett-Petty, Michael Hooper, Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro. Conversions: Foley (3). Penalties: Foley (3).
England – Tries: Dan Cole, Mike Brown, Billy Vunipola, Jamie George. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3). Penalties: Farrell (6).
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Leali'ifano, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Jack Clifford, 22 Danny Care, 23 Elliot Daly.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images