A round-up of the last two November Tests featuring the home nations - England v Australia and Wales v South Africa
IN A NUTSHELL
England 26-17 Australia
Swing Low reverberated around Twickenham as England ended their autumn with a win over Australia. It wasn’t a convincing performance, but a try in each half from No 8 Ben Morgan and the boot of George Ford secured a victory against a side they will play in the 2015 World Cup.
The win was built on the dominance of their scrum, like so many of England’s previous triumphs over Australia. Morgan’s first try came as England built pressure from a scrum in the 22, the No 8 taking a pop pass from Tom Wood and barrelling over to make the half-time score 13-3.
Bernard Foley was then sent under the posts by Rob Horne early in the second half, England’s lackadaisical tackling allowing Australia too much space, as it did for a lot of the game.
It was 20-17 after 60 minutes as Morgan dotted down his second from a 5m scrum before Will Skelton used his bulk to power over from short range. Two more Ford penalties allowed England to pull clear – but there is still work to do if Chris Robshaw‘s side are to be title contenders at RWC 2015.
Wales 12-6 South Africa
Four penalties from Leigh Halfpenny to two from Pat Lambie were the only scores, but it was a dramatic, hugely physical and eventful game.
South Africa lost skipper Jean de Villiers with a dislocated knee just before the final quarter and had Cornal Hendricks harshly sin-binned for taking out Halfpenny in the air, with the Welshman going off soon afterwards.
In the closing minutes Wales made several errors which could have cost them the game but ultimately hung on as South Africa matched their mistakes. Dan Biggar was a deserving Man of the Match, making 11 tackles and piloting Wales to a much-needed and long overdue victory.
559 – the number of metres Australia ran with the ball compared to 169 by England.
17 – the number of turnovers Australia conceded compared to nine by England.
158 – the number of tackles made by England while Australia made just 48.
17 – the number of defenders South Africa beat, compared to Wales’s six, but they still couldn’t cross the try-line.
16 – the number of tackles Sam Warburton made, and he missed just one
“We wanted to end the series on a high. There was a big emphasis this week on putting on a better performance and we did that by a long way. To defend against Australia is tough. It’s hard on the lungs. The boys put in a massive shift.” England fly-half George Ford.
“We always seem to do it the hard way, but the main thing is we crossed the line today and that’s huge. We have thrown things away so many times in the past. This is a real motivator for us moving forward.” Wales fly-half and Man of the Match, Dan Biggar.
“This is right up there as one of the best achievements I have had in a Wales jersey.” Wales captain Sam Warburton.