England in rare Australia victory


England beat the Wallabies for only the fourth time in Australia as they triumphed in a mighty battle in the first Test in Brisbane.

The win looked unlikely when they fell 10-0 behind early on as Michael Hooper and Israel Folau scored for the hosts.

But the tourists hit back through the boot of Owen Farrell and tries from Jonathan Joseph and Marland Yarde.

Australia rallied as Hooper and Tevita Kuridrani crossed, but Jack Nowell had the final word for England.

It was England’s first ever win in Brisbane and also their biggest ever down under over the Wallabies, surpassing the 25-14 victory in Melbourne in June 2003 that came five months before Jonny Wilkinson’s drop-goal beat Australia in the final of the 2003 World Cup.

Saturday’s victory puts them 1-0 ahead in the three Test series, which continues in Melbourne and then Sydney on the next two Saturdays.

James Haskell was at the heart of a tremendous performance from the England pack, while Farrell kicked 24 points in another impressive performance by the versatile Saracen.

The hosts started in spectacular fashion, looking to spread the ball wide and outflank England’s defence, and they opened the scoring as lively open-side flanker Hooper scooted over after the long-striding Folau had made the initial break.

The 6ft 5in full-back was a menace with ball in hand and when he sliced through off the drifting Bernard Foley, Australia had a 10-point lead after only quarter of an hour.

If the wayward Foley had managed to land his shots at goal – the fly-half’s goal-kicking was some way below the standard of the rest of his game – the hosts might have been out of sight.

But they were not and when England finally got themselves into the match, the momentum changed for good.

Farrell puts the boot in

The visitors began to monopolise possession and Farrell cut the home lead to a single point with three penalties.

Worse was to come for the hosts as poor play in their own 22 enabled England centre Joseph to kick ahead and score a try, which Farrell converted.

A penalty apiece made it 19-13 to England at the break, and after the restart the visitors took total control.

Haskell’s rampaging break split the Australian defence and gave George Ford – on at fly-half, with Farrell moving to inside centre in place of Luther Burrell – the opportunity to send Yarde over with a raking pass.

Before the match, England coach Eddie Jones had promised ‘Bodyline’ rugby, and the relentless power of the visitors’ pack, with Haskell and the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, stepping up alongside Maro Itoje, forced Australia further onto the back foot.

England’s front row had also started shoving the Wallabies back in the scrum and when the home side had Scott Sio sin-binned, and Farrell extended England’s lead to 16 points, it looked like game over.

But you can never write off an Australia side in any sport and, down to 14 men and apparently mortally wounded, they decided all out attack was the only response.

Hooper scored his second try to give them hope before Kuridrani blasted over to cut England’s lead to just seven points.

But England were in ruthless mood and, after Danny Care tapped a late penalty, Ford’s delightful kick set up Nowell to finish the game in style.

The Wasps flanker continued his re-birth under the astute management of Eddie Jones with a magnificent performance in Brisbane.

Haskell is a big character but seems to be a confidence player, and having been marginalised under the Stuart Lancaster regime, he is now playing arguably the best Test rugby of his career.

In defence he mixed big hits with a ferocious work-rate that saw him cover every blade of grass while making 18 tackles, and he was a constant physical presence at the breakdown too, throwing in three turnovers for good measure.

His running game, dormant for so long in England colours, has also reappeared and his pacy 50m second-half break – which included a side-step many an England winger would covet – was decisive in Yarde’s try.





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