The Wallabies and England played out another enthralling match with Eddie Jones’s team once again coming away with the spoils, 30-6.
With the slippery conditions at Twickenham not helping either side on the error count, this was still a cracking Test match, which had all the necessary ingredients of niggle, controversy and drama.
This was a carbon copy of last year’s encounter between the two sides with Australia dominating for large parts of the game but failing to score when their chances came along. Indeed, the Wallabies had the two best players on the pitch in Marika Koroibete and Samu Kerevi who were absolutely devastating at times, until Danny Care came along in the last quarter and addressed the balance for England.
The obvious talking points revolved around the two Wallabies yellow cards that were dished out to Kurtley Beale (rightly so) and Michael Hooper (subject to debate) as well as the two disallowed tries in which the first to Michael Hooper, if you are going by the absolute letter of the law, was ultimately the right decision but also harsh in the extreme. The other disallowed try to Marika Koroibete in the seventieth minute had a little bit more doubt to it with the possible obstruction by Stephen Moore on a scrambling Chris Robshaw.
Then there was the doubt over Elliot Daley’s try which, depending on which side of the fence you sit on, came down to a blade or two of grass or some chalk.
There was no question that the Wallabies deserved one of the decisions to have gone their way and Michael Cheika was understandably fuming by the end of the game.
The reality, however, is that England showed the greater composure and physicality, especially in the last quarter, to see the Wallabies off. The ‘finishers’ as Eddie Jones likes to call them, particularly with the introduction of Danny Care, did their job perfectly to pounce on the errors served up by the Australians to give the scoreline a flattering finish.
Given that they were up against an in-form and infinitely better Wallaby team than last year’s version, this was a mighty win for England. They can play much better, especially in attack, and that will make Eddie Jones very happy with the Six Nations coming up.
For the Wallabies, they have reason to be frustrated but the usual snap in their handling was absent, further highlighting the absence of Israel Folau. This ultimately gave England some respite in defence and opportunities in attack which, it must be said, England took brilliantly. They are certainly heading in the right direction with fringe players like Koreibeite and Kerevi stepping up to Test match rugby with aplomb. Their contest versus the Scots next weekend will be a thriller and one which the Wallabies must win to finish their season in the plus column.
FT: @EnglandRugby have beaten Australia, 30 – 6 at Twickenham #ENGvAUS pic.twitter.com/Qqp1RgSYon
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 18, 2017
On the other fields…
The weekend served up some other classic encounters, not least Scotland’s wonderful performance against the All Blacks at Murrayfield. Gregor Townsend’s men so nearly conjured up a special win if it were not for a piece of defensive genius by Beauden Barrett to deny the excellent Stuart Hogg at the death.
For too long we have seen northern hemisphere sides promise so much and deliver very little when the big guns from southern hemisphere come over for their autumn campaigns. Scotland can hold their heads high, though, after an epic game against the World Champions.
The close score line was genuine in comparison to Wales’ battle against the Wallabies the previous weekend where once again Warren Gatland’s team came up short. In what is turning out to be another disappointing winter for the Welsh, who just scraped by the improving Georgians, they have the small matter of the the All Blacks coming to town this Saturday.
Talking of disappointment, France have endured another woeful couple of weeks, including a desperate 18-17 loss to the Springboks at the Stade de France. With respect to the South Africans this was not their best team, with recent results bordering on embarrassing. They were abysmal last week against Ireland and continually inconsistent throughout the Rugby Championship but they deserved their win against the French.
Bernard Laporte, president of the Fédération Française de Rugby served warning to national coach Guy Noves that he expected three victories out of the four autumnal matches and they have failed miserably. They will probably beat Japan next week but Noves will be under yet more pressure when the Six Nations kicks off in February.
A special mention must go to the Fijians who played splendidly against the Irish in Dublin on Saturday evening. It is a well-known argument but just imagine how good Fiji would be if they had a full contingent of players to choose from? Messrs. Koroibete, Karevi, Vakatawa and Kuridrani, to name but a few, are plying their international trade elsewhere; what a shame that is.
It is exciting to see new players step up into the world-class bracket. Antoine Dupont, the Toulouse scrum half, has been a shining light amidst the French gloom this autumn. Maro Itoje continues to impress for England, as does Stuart Hogg for Scotland; the latter was quite outstanding against the All Blacks. The Wallabies will need to be on their guard against Hogg and the hugely promising Huw Jones when they visit Murrayfield on Saturday. South Africa have unearthed a gem of a hooker in the form of Malcolm Marx, who combines the power of a Bismarck Du Plessis with the skills of a Schalk Brits.
Australia in Scotland
With one weekend to go before the Southern Hemisphere take a well-earned break for Christmas holidays, Australia will want to put Twickenham behind them and finish the good work they have put in these last few weeks. Scotland will want to further improve their credentials as a coming force in world rugby by taking a Wallabies scalp for the second time in 2017.