Timothy Hammersley gives us a rundown of everything we learnt from the most recent England vs. Australia match
England rolled out 30-6 winners against Australia at HQ on Saturday, with a trio of tries in the final 10 minutes from Joseph, May and Care providing a picture of the game that didn’t tell the whole story.
1. Power off the bench stopped England from losing their grip on the game.
Maro Itoje made an instant impact to England’s set piece when he came off the bench for the injured Sam Underhill in the first half, disrupting Australia’s line out and providing real power to the scrum. Joe Marler provided a welcome energy boost to the English scrum when he came on in the second half. Yet again, however, it was Danny Care who gave England that added flair in a match that up to that point had been lacking any real creativity.
2. The ball bounced England’s way
Australia felt somewhat aggrieved at the final whistle with the final score, whereas the story of the whole game showed a series of 50-50 calls that consistently went England’s way. The ruling out of Aussie captain Michael Hooper’s try for offside raised eyebrows as again did the decision not to award a try when Marika Korebeite went over for Australia in the second half, originally sent upstairs to check if the grounding was complete only for hooker Stephen Moore to be penalised for obstruction, a try which would have levelled the scores and provided a different context to the final 10 minutes of the game which England ran away with.
3. It may not always be pretty, but England know how to win
Had England played safe in the final 10 minutes and grounded out a 13-6 win, the same criticisms as were made following the win against Argentina last week. As wins keep coming under Eddie Jones, performances are expected to be more expressive. Yet that is not always the Eddie Jones way. A man who could be Rugby’s answer to Jose Mourinho, took the job to bring a steel to the side that had been lacking in previous years. England don’t mind winning dirty under Jones, and that tough play for most of the game enabled England to cut loose in the final 10.
4. Australia need to improve their discipline
Australia found themselves reduced to 13 men at half time, with the sin binning of captain Michael Hooper for repeated minor infringements and fullback Kurtley Beale for a deliberate knock on, the latter dismissal particularly enraging Aussie coach Michael Cheika. Hooper’s yellow card has now made him the most sin binned international, and as captain that is a stat that cannot be overlooked. The Aussie captain was outstanding in the first half, but his undoubted ability can only be utilised on the pitch, and his hot-headed approach risks spreading throughout the rest of the team.
4. The strength of the English pack is in its’ versatility
When openside Sam Underhill was taken off injured to be replaced by Maro Itoje, England’s forwards were able to rearrange themselves so to maximise Itoje’s strength and put real pressure on Australia in open play as well as at the set piece. Robshaw was able to move over to 7, with Lawes moving to 6 so to accommodate Itoje in the second row. Yet again Robshaw moved sides with ease, and by playing in the back-row Lawes was able to utilise his power in open field whilst still providing the pack with the tactical skill he brings to the execution of England’s set piece.