Eddie Jones' men won a brutal second Test to become history makers in Melbourne, as the first England side to win a Test Series on Australian soil. It lifts them to No 2 in the world
At the AAMI Stadium in Melbourne the No 2 and No 3 sides in the world played out a brutal Second Test, in which neither side was willing to cede an inch. Both captain’s scored in an attritional, niggly first half, from rolling mauls and the raw intensity saw tempers boiling over more than once. After the break, the Wallabies threw everything at England as they took control, dominating territory and possession. Eddie Jones’ men were clinging on but handling errors and some desperate scramble defence kept the waves of green and gold out. With 75 minutes on the clock, they spilled possession and Courtney Lawes broke away, Jamie George hacked behind the Wallaby defensive line and Owen Farrell finished the move, using his footballing skills to score.
Whichever way you look at it, England were under the pump for the majority of the game, especially in the second-half. They just could not exit their own half or get any field position or territory. As Eddie Jones admitted, it was rope-a-dope stuff; they just had to suck up wave upon wave of hard-running Wallabies hammering down their defensive channel. To a man, they threw themselves into tackles with careless abandon and defended their line. Eddie Jones will have found out a huge amount about his side’s character from this game.
Captains lead by example
Dylan Hartley became the most capped English hooker of all time in Melbourne and throughout the week talked up England’s desperation for a Series win. It was no surprise then, that he popped up from a mass of bodies after 17 minutes, sleeves rolled up, to put England in the lead. Hartley’s desire to put his body on the line, shows why he’s treated with such respect by his team-mates. He sets the standards on an off the field. The same could be said for Stephen Moore who did the same later in the half to put the Wallabies back in the game
Intensity ramped up a notch.
While it was balmy and free-scoring Test in Brisbane, the intensity ratcheted up a notch in Melbourne. Both sides started the contest with gnarled intent, and that spilled over after 11minutes and a 30-man dust-up ensued which saw Dan Cole lose his shirt. After a few minutes, Craig Joubert penalised Stephen Moore penalized for going in at the side. Eminem’s Lose Yourself came on the tannoy not long after and the sides came close to losing it several times during the game. As Eddie Jones put it, ‘it was a proper Test match.”
Australia have used four props so far in the Series; James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Scott Sio and Sekope Kepu but they are down on points to duo Dan Cole and Mako Vunipola at scrum-time. The Wallaby pack had scraped its way back into respectability but they won’t look back very fondly on the Tests in Brisbane and Melbourne. There’s plenty of work to do ahead of Sydney.
The AAMI pitch
The AAMI stadium was built in 2010 as a multi-purpose venue for football, Aussie Rules and the odd game of rugby. There have been rumbles of concern about how the pitch would hold up and the nay-sayers were right. The pitch cut up terribly at scrum time and turned into a hazard. Neither side would blame the pitch but it was unacceptable and questions have to be asked.
Throwing sand in people’s faces
Michael Hooper is a brilliant No 7 who plays on the very edge of the rules but he will be feeling red-faced in the days to come when he appeared to been caught on camera grabbing at the sandy turf and throwing it in James Haskell’s face in at a scrum, although later footage seems to absolve him of the crime.
Time after time Australia made heavy incursions into the England half, but in slippery conditions they continually spilt the ball at crucial times, especially in midfield. Michael Cheika said it was a facet of the game they would be looking at.
Australia ran 514 metres to England’s 248 metres
Australia had 71 per cent possession to England’s 29 per cent
England made 169 tackles out of 200 (85 per cent completion) to Australia’s 49 out of 58 (84 per cent completion)
Dane Haylett-Petty ran farthest in the game with 97m carried, next best was Israel Folau with 91m. For England, Billy Vunipola ran 46m, next up was Mike Brown with 41m
Top tackler on the day with 21 tackles, was James Haskell, followed by Maro Itoje on 20 and Billy Vunipola 18. Owen Farrell made 16 tackles
Tries: Stephen Moore
Cons: Bernard Foley (1)
Tries: Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell
Pens: Owen Farrell (3)
Cons: Owen Farrell (2)
Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Rob Horne; Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; James Slipper, Stephen Moore (capt), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Sean McMahon.
Reps: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Toby Smith, Greg Holmes, Dean Mumm, Ben McCalman, Nick Frisby, Christian Leali’ifano, Luke Morahan
Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola.
Reps: Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly
Referee: Craig Joubert
Man of the Match: Chris Robshaw