England dog it out against Australia

Stuart Lancaster’s side far from convincing but second half performance rescues win over Wallabies

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 16:55

England 20 Australia 13

England launched a year described by head coach Stuart Lancaster as “defining” with a spirited 20-13 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

Tries from Chris Robshaw - his first in 18 Test appearances - and Owen Farrell overcame a 13-6 interval deficit to dominate the second half of an ugly match.

Farrell endured a mixed afternoon from the kicking tee, missing three of his seven shots at goal, but he recovered well, using his wits to produce the match-winning touch down in the 58th minute.

England were poor in the first half as they failed to capitalise on a dominant scrum and lost their way alarmingly in the third quarter. While they were one dimensional, Australia were far sharper in attack and infinitely more comfortable on the ball, possessing the two best players on the pitch in Quade Cooper and Israel Folau.

Centre Matt Toomua scored the simplest of tries for the Wallabies — Billy Twelvetrees was at fault because of a feeble tackle — while Cooper expertly directed play. But once a sloppy 10-minute spell that opened the second half had been negotiated, England finally began playing with conviction against their 2015 World Cup group rivals.

Australia still remained dangerous but with Robshaw and Farrell crossing and Cooper missing two penalties, the Cook Cup slipped from their grasp. England’s 2003 World Cup-winning squad performed a lap of honour at half-time and while the current squad lack the class of a decade a ago, Lancaster will have been impressed that his team found a way to win.

He had stressed all week the need to hit the ground running after being ambushed 20-14 by the Wallabies last autumn and they appeared to have made the start he demanded when some muscular defending forced a penalty that Farrell nudged over.

A loose chip from Joel Tomkins wasted a promising spell and although Farrell levelled the score after Billy Vunipola has strayed offside, England were in control.

The scrum was proving a happy hunting ground, winning a free kick and penalty, but their ascendancy was not mirrored on the scoreboard as Farrell missed two successive penalties. Ben Alexander was Australia’s weak link in July’s decisive final Test against the British and Irish Lions and the tighthead prop was enduring another damaging afternoon in the setpiece.

He popped up twice and then it was loosehead James Slipper’s turn to be penalised after dropping his knee to the floor. Farrell missed a third shot at goal from long range, but in the 28th minute England finally made some headway. For the first time they ran with intent, Billy Vunipola piercing the first line of defence and Mike Brown taking the ball to the line. Australia were struggling and amid a warning from Irish referee George Clancy that a yellow card would soon be produced, they infringed again and this time Farrell was on target.

The Wallabies’ response was brilliant, however, as Folau eased past a missed tackle by Chris Ashton and glided into space with reinforcements arriving quickly at the ensuing breakdown. Will Genia tried to dummy his way over twice but kept the ball alive and then fed Toomua who, from a standing start five yards out, flattened Twelvetrees and rode a tackle from Robshaw to crash over.

The lead was extended to seven points when Cooper landed the conversion and a penalty and Australia spent half-time grouped together on the pitch. England began the third quarter with a succession of errors — a simple backs move breaking down, Tomkins feebly slipping off a tackle on Tevita Kuridrani and Marland Yarde penalised for a late block on Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The last offence gave Cooper a chance but he missed the kick, and this time it was England who responded with intent as Yarde was prevented from crossing by a double try-saving tackle from Ashley-Cooper and Kuridrani.

Play stopped as Scott Fardy was carried off on a stretcher with a neck brace fitted following a heavy collision and when it restarted England crossed. Genia’s clearance was charged down into the path of Robshaw who picked up the ball and fell over the line with Farrell converting.

The Saracens outhalf then converted his own try after he had slipped between two Wallabies forwards, although there was a hint of obstruction from Dylan Hartley on Stephen Moore.

The arrival of scrumhalf Ben Youngs from the bench had provided an injection of pace and with Cooper missing two penalties, the momentum was with England once again.

Showing character and nous, they closed out the match to retain third place in the world rankings.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.