Melbourne - England clinched a first-ever series win in Australia with a remarkable defensive effort, scrapping their way to a 23-7 win in Melbourne.
The tourists led 13-7 for almost the entire second half thanks to a
try from Dylan Hartley and two Owen Farrell penalties, before a
breakaway try finished off by Farrell made sure that England would make
After the thrills and spills of Sydney this was more of a traditional
Test slugfest, boiling over at times and leaving Dan Cole early on with
his shirt ripped off his back.
Tries from the two captains Stephen Moore and Hartley were copycat
efforts off rolling mauls and from then on it was all about desire.
Exhausting enough just watching, both sets of players left everything
Australia had chances to take penalties but opted for the lineout
instead – brave at first, but the longer they trailled the more foolish
turning down those points seemed.
From renowned tacklers likes James Haskell and Maro Itoje to someone
whose tackling has been doubted like George Ford, England defence's was
remarkable, even when it looked like their legs might give way.
Chris Robshaw celebrated his 50th cap with an outstanding display.
Haskell finished with 21 tackles. Australia will feel that Farrell's
late try was burglary, but the truth is England had more than earned it
for their work camped in their own 22.
Farrell, metronomic with his place kicking in Sydney, couldn't draw his first attempt around to keep the scores at 0-0.
The pre-match concerns about the AAMI Park struggling with Test level
scrums proved to be more than valid, as the two packs churned up dead
turf at an alarming rate following the first couple of engagements.
Frankly, it was an embarrassment.
If the scrums were a letdown then a scrap which blew up following
Robshaw's apparent neck roll on Nick Phipps saw both sides steaming into
one another, a lengthy TMO referral resulting in Moore being penalised
for flying in off his feet.
Patience was the key to England's approach on attack and after a bomb
from George Ford went unclaimed by the Wallabies waiting underneath,
allowing it to bounce, Joseph pounced to secure possession to set up an
attack which resulted in England kicking to the corner from a penalty
and eventually scoring.
Having set the maul England's second phase gave them the power
required to drive forward with Hartley pouncing for the try. Farrell
converted to make it 7-0.
A superior kicking game and the outstanding work of Cole in the scrum
was allowing England to control proceedings, Farrell adding a penalty
to stretch the lead to ten.
Seemingly in a daze Australia desperately needed something to snap out of their lull, and it came from their own maul.
The loss of Rory Arnold to the blood bin didn't matter as the Wallaby
pack set and then powered over with the captain Moore the scorer. Foley
put his Sydney kicking woes behind him by landing the conversion from
out wide to make it 7-10.
Samu Kerevi repayed the faith shown in him by Michael Cheika with
some punishing runs, threatening to split England open with the first
half running down.
Australia though had a final chance to attack after Billy Vunipola kicked the ball out seemingly at the same time as the hooter.
The hosts instead cracked out an attack from the resulting lineout
which went four minutes and over 20 phases into overtime, the Wallabies
finishing it with absolutely no points whatsoever. England led by the
break, just, as both teams headed down the tunnel still scrapping.
It was the visitors who started the second half with more energy but
they had been lucky to not lose a man to a yellow card in the first half
after cynical penalties close to their own line.
A TMO referral for a block in the back by Farrell suggested that
sin-binning would finally happen, except instead Australia were
penalised for obstruction and Farrell obliged to make it 7-13.
Only an excellent turnover from Robshaw on his 50th cap could keep
Australia out again but the Wallabies were starting to surge, a fresh
front row turning the screw on the scrum to test England's defence
again. Foley's knock-on brought that to an end.
With England tiring the introduction of Christian Lealiifano to add
some width to Australia's game looked like a masterstroke as the
Wallabies enjoyed close to 70 percent possession in the second half.
Time and again England's defence five metres out from their line
remained resolute, desperately kicking clear whenever they could.
Waiting for a vital mistake, England pounced. Courtney Lawes burst up
the middle was followed up by replacement hooker Jamie George, and it
was his grubber kick which unlocked the Australia defence, Farrell
racing up in support to get to the ball and score the series-winning
Another dominant scrum from England had Billy Vunipola roaring in
celebration and Farrell lining up another penalty, stretching the score
Sunday will be a rough day for Australia as they try and recover for
Sydney. England meanwhile will savour the moment. What a turnaround from
their Rugby World Cup disaster.
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden was cleared of a serious neck
injury after being stretchered off during the All Blacks' second Test
win over Wales, coach Steve Hansen said Saturday.
rushed to hospital for tests after a tackle from Wales's Luke Charteris
in the first half of the game, which New Zealand won 36-22.
"The doc's been in touch and it sounds like he's going to be OK," Hansen said after the match.
"They're doing a few precautionary things but the word is he's going to be good."
He said the 39-Test pivot was feared a neck injury when he was tackled awkwardly.
he got tackled, Luke Charteris -- by accident, not deliberately --
ended up catching him and bending his neck over as he came over the
top," he said.
"So there was a bit of a crack, but by all accounts from the hospital there's nothing damaged, they're pretty positive."
Hansen also said Malakai Fekitoa, who missed part of the first half and the entire second, was not seriously injured.
The coach said the player had facial cuts which were bleeding heavily, prompting a decision to take him off.