England beat the Wallabies 23-7 in Melbourne on Saturday to clinch their first away Test-series win against one of the big three southern hemisphere rugby nations. MARK KEOHANE reports.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell scored the decisive try in the 75th minute to break Australian hearts. He kicked the conversion and added a late three-pointer for England's biggest winning margin against the Wallabies in Australia.
England comfortably won the first Test 39-28 in Brisbane and while it was more of a contest in Melbourne, England always looked the likelier winner.
The visitors were more battle hardened, more clinical on attack but most crucially it was the defensive mongrel and defensive cohesiveness that proved decisive.
The Wallabies, statistically, will show an impressive attacking return, but this is where statistics can be misleading because the Wallabies attack was rendered impotent by the defensive powers of England.
Defensively, it was men against boys and the Wallabies looked clueless when, phase after phase, they were brutally repelled.
Australia dominated territory for much of the second half – and had 70% of the possession – but the all-out attack produced not a point.
Australia three times turned down penalty opportunities to make it a three-point deficit and continued to back a limp attack for a potential seven. It proved costly as the English defence turned the screws and came up victorious on every occasion.
A late Farrell 10-point flurry made the game safe in the final few minutes and England’s discipline on defence, error rate of just two (compared to Australia’s 16) were the telling factors.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore acknowledged England were the better team in both Tests and deserved the series victory.
Dylan Hartley praised his team's defensive effort and said it was an occasion to celebrate because it was a history-making one. He added there was still a third Test to be played, but said Saturday night in Melbourne was about reflection on a job well done and also on creating a bit of history.
Wallabies – Tries: Stephen Moore. Conversion: Bernard Foley.
England – Tries: Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell. Conversions: Farrell (2). Penalties: Farrell (3).
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Leali'ifano, 23 Luke Morahan.
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 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 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: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images