England's Toby Flood is tackled Australia's Sitaleki
Timani. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Australia showed their true colours when a week after
being humiliated by France in Paris they earned a spirited and
fully deserved 20-14 victory over England at Twickenham.
Looking more like the team who ended New Zealand's winning
run last month than that thrashed 33-6 in Paris last week,
the Wallabies yet again showed that they are at their best
when everyone is writing them off.
Superior in every department, not least the scrum where
England had been expected to dominate, they had to defend for
long periods in the last quarter but were well worth the win.
England, looking for a third successive victory over the
Wallabies, piled on the pressure but paid a heavy price for
trying to run kickable penalties as great Australian
defending kept them at bay.
"We spoke about character and resolve and that's something we
showed tonight," said Australia captain Nathan Sharpe.
"There were times when we had a lot of attack but what won us
the game was probably that 20-30 minutes on our tryline when
we forced a lot of turnovers."
Berrick Barnes, in at fullback, winger Digby Ioane, lock
Sekope Kepu and tighthead prop Ben Alexander were all brought
back after the Paris defeat and Australia were
Alexander's return certainly restored order to the Wallaby
scrum, which more than held its own having been blown away in
Paris, and the Wallabies were in the ascendency for most of
the first half.
England did well to earn nine points from three Toby Flood
penalties while Barnes dropped a goal and scored one penalty
to keep things tight.
The game then exploded into life in the last five minutes of
the first half, with a try apiece.
England had been forced to defend their line for long periods
as the rejuvenated Australian forwards pressed hard but it
was a more typical backline break the earned the opening try.
A poor clearance kick by Danny Care was scooped up by
livewire scrumhalf Nick Phipps, who scorched through two
tackles before timing his pass perfectly to send winger Nick
Cummins in for his first international try.
Care quickly made amends though when, having been awarded a
very kickable penalty, he opted for a quick tap and Brad
Barritt's overhead and Tom Johnson's final touch sent Tuilagi
in at the corner and the TMO ruled that he had stretched just
far enough for a fraction of the ball to dissect the line.
Flood missed the touchline conversion but England were
delighted to turn round 14-11 ahead having been on the back
foot for most of the half.
Australia were quickest out of the blocks again in the second
half, as three Barnes penalties edged them ahead - all
England struggled to deal with clever chips.
Barnes was full of energy and ideas while the running of
centre Ben Tapuai and the crisp passing of the whole backline
kept Australia on top.
England, playing in their garish new cerise strip, finally
got the ball as the introduction of prop Mako Vunipola and
lock Joe Launchbury added some extra power but they were on
the wrong end of a TV replay when number eight Thomas Waldrom
lost control as he touched down.
England's backs finally got moving but this time the decision
to turn down easy penalties misfired twice when their
tap-and-go moves came to nothing in the face of some furious
"That's a decision myself and other leaders have to have a
look at," said England captain Chris Robshaw.
"We scored a try once and got turned over another time and
nearly scored as well. We need to make sure if you do go, you
come away with some points.
"We weren't clinical enough and some great chances went
begging. We need to be clinical when you play the best teams
- if you get one chance you have to take it."
England now face South Africa and New Zealand while Australia
travel to Italy.