Planet Rugby

England break Aussie duck Down Under

19th June 2010 10:30

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drew mitchell australia v england

Bottoms up: England finally come good in Australia

It only took seven years, but England finally got the better of the Wallabies on Australian soil thanks to a thrilling 21-20 victory in Sydney on Saturday.

Both side's crossed the whitewash twice, but the difference came from the tee - Matt Giteau missing on two occasions from an easy range to put his side in front that ultimately allowed the visitors to hang on for a memorable win.

It was a case of déjà vu for the hosts as 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson's boot ruined Australia's weekend.

Wilkinson, who made his first appearance at the Sydney Olympic Stadium since slotting the famous late drop-goal all those years ago, converted a 55th minute three-pointer that was the significant difference in England's win.

England had taken a half-time lead with maiden Test tries from Ben Youngs and Chris Ashton but the Wallabies hit back with Giteau scoring twice in a 20-point haul.

Wilkinson replaced Toby Flood early in the second half - and his first act was to land the penalty that pushed England ahead to seal only their third Test victory Down Under against the Wallabies.

England were barely recognisable from the team that was so soundly put in its place by the Wallabies in Perth last week. In what was by far their finest performance under Martin Johnson, the tourists played with confidence, intelligence and inventiveness throughout the 80 minutes and no-one can argue that they thoroughly deserved the win.

While England's scrum was their dominant weapon in the first Test in Perth last weekend, it was barely used on Saturday as an improved defence and dominant field position secured the unlikely result.

England opened the match with much greater intensity compared to last week and pressured the Australian inside backs, forcing a host of early errors. They were rewarded when the Wallabies gave away a defensive penalty in front of the posts and Toby Flood put England ahead 3-0 after just three minutes.

Five minutes later referee Romaine Poite penalised English prop Tim Payne for a punch in the scrum and Matt Giteau duly equalised with a simple kick at goal.

He made it 6-3 soon after with a penalty from 45 metres out, but the English were rewarded for their enterprise when Youngs scored a wonderful solo try, taking the ball from the back of the line-out, darting past the Australian forwards and outpacing Drew Mitchell to score.

In an entertaining first half the Wallabies struck back almost immediately, Giteau scoring after a superb break from winger Digby Ioane to put Australia ahead 13-10.

But England were soon in again as winger Ashton scored his first Test try, steaming onto an inside ball from lock Tom Palmer and breaking through the attempted tackle of James O'Connor.

Flood's conversion attempt went just wide and England went into the break with a well-deserved 15-13 lead.

The Wallabies backs had been well contained in the first half but they gave a show of their brilliance three minutes into the second as Quade Cooper and O'Connor broke away down the sideline before sending Giteau away for his second try and a 20-15 lead.

An Australian scrum collapse allowed Flood to narrow the gap to 20-18, almost his last act before being replaced by Wilkinson. Another scrum collapse saw Wilkinson kick a penalty from in front and an England lead.

Giteau had three chances to put the Australians back in front but missed them all, including one from right in front of the posts with 10 minutes to go while Wilkinson had an opportunity to kick a 79th minute penalty but his attempt also went wide.

Nevertheless, England managed to hold on to possession in the dying seconds and cleared the ball into touch at the sound of the final hooter.

Man of the match: Newcomers Ben Youngs at scrum-half and lock Courteney Lawes justified their selections, while the back three of Ben Foden, Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton, hardly seen in the first Test, looked dangerous every time they touched the ball. However our vote was an unanimous one in the end - Nick Easter played his best game in an England shirt and simply dominated from start to finish. He was found everywhere on the pitch, never dropped a ball and put in big hits.

Moment of the match: All the tries were eye-catching, but Ben Youngs' effort to put England back ahead thanks to a great individual run through the gap showed the visitors meant business.

Villain of the match: Matt Giteau may have scored all the Wallabies' points, but memories of his blunder against Scotland came back to haunt him as he missed one, and another and then another from bang in front that would have put his side in front!

The scorers:

For Australa:
Tries: Giteau 2
Cons: Giteau 2
Pens: Giteau 2

England:
Tries: Youngs, Ashton
Cons: Flood 2
Pens: Flood 2, Wilkinson

Australia: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 James Slipper, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper.

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Lewis Moody (c), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 David Wilson, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 James Haskell, 20 Danny Care, 21 Jonny Wilkinson, 22 Delon Armitage.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

By Dave Morris

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