A 25-17 victory makes it 1-1 heading into final Test in Sydney
England hold off Australia comeback to level the series
What a difference a week makes.
Having failed to close out a victory against a 14-man Australia last week in Perth, England came out firing in Brisbane. They had scored a try within five minutes and opened up a 19-0 lead by the half-hour mark.
The forwards ran hard and fast in those early exchanges to dominate physically, Ellis Genge amongst those who were prominent. However, as ever, the Wallabies got themselves back into the game and it took some important interventions from Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes to ensure England held off that Australia comeback.
It was far from the perfect performance from England – discipline needs to be much better – but they got the result and levelled the series.
So back to that fast start. Billy Vunipola scored an early try following a clever lineout move. Maro Itoje won the lineout in Australia’s 22, then quickly passed the ball down to Vunipola and the maul was set around the No 8. It powered forward and Vunipola grounded the ball over the line.
Then four penalties from Farrell put England in control before a scrum penalty allowed Australia to set up an attacking position with a lineout in the opposition 22.
Strong carries from Hunter Paisami and Angus Bell took the Wallabies within a few metres, then Taniela Tupou powered through the tackle of Farrell.
It was 19-7 at half-time and England would be without Itoje in the second period after the lock was taken off with a head injury.
The Wallabies’ second try, scored after Farrell had slotted another penalty, came in a similar fashion to the first. They pummelled the English line with pick and goes, Paisami and Tupou involved again – the latter bumping off Marcus Smith, and then Noah Lolesio found Samu Kerevi in space out wide.
Within a few minutes they had reduced the deficit further when Smith was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on – as Izaia Perese had been in the first half – and Lolesio converted the resulting penalty into three points.
England were able to repel a few further Australian attacks – Tom Wright with an incredible break from his own 22 and kick ahead that led to a lineout for the hosts in the opposition 22 only for a not-straight throw to follow – and then a Farrell kick on 65 minutes swung momentum back towards the visitors.
On halfway, he kicked cross-field for Jack Nowell, who took play into Australia’s 22 with a series of jinky steps.
Freddie Steward took the ball on further and England ultimately got over the line with a series of pick and goes but the ball was held up and the referee came back for a penalty, which Farrell put through the posts to extend England’s lead to eight points.
England conceded a couple more penalties in the final ten minutes but Australia were unable to capitalise from their kicks to touch – one went dead and Lawes won a crucial turnover following another.
Farrell was off-target with a long-range penalty in the 74th minute but England were able to hold off the Wallabies to ensure this series will be decided in the final match.
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