England win first-ever test series in Australia
Six Nations champions defend heroically to secure 23-7 victory over Wallabies and are now second to the All Blacks in World Rugby rankings
England won their first-ever series in Australia with a heroic 23-7 victory over the Wallabies in the second test in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Six Nations champions, who conquered the second-ranked Wallabies 39-28 in the opening test in Brisbane, defended magnificently for long periods in the second half and then sealed the win through a late Owen Farrell toe-ahead try.
Farrell, who was shifted to inside centre for the second game, contributed 18 points with his try, two conversions and three penalty goals.
By winning, England retained the Cook Cup and hoisted Eddie Jones’ side to second in the World Rugby rankings.
“We didn’t have much possession so we had to defend a lot, our defence was outstanding,” Jones said following England’s eighth straight victory.
“We’re looking forward to winning the series 3-0. We came here to win the series 3-0 and that’s what we want to do next Saturday.”
England led 10-7 at half-time, but had to defend for long periods in the second half as the Wallabies probed for the breakthrough try.
But it never came, due to a combination of the Wallabies’ sloppy handling and England’s unyielding defence protecting their try line.
It was yet another tactical masterpiece by England’s Australian coach Jones, who again out-marshalled his counterpart Michael Cheika.
The Wallabies scored four tries in last week’s defeat in Brisbane, but could only muster one this time through skipper Stephen Moore in the first half.
“We dropped a lot of ball, we ran a lot, maybe we played too much in the wrong areas. We have to learn to play a lot of footy, and win the game too,” Cheika said.
“You have to pay credit to England, they played very well in both games, they played very smart and they’ve played in the right areas and they spoiled a lot of good ball in the ruck. Well done to them.”
England’s powerful pack struck first blood midway through the half when skipper Dylan Hartley scored off a rolling maul close to the Wallabies’ line for a 7-0 lead.
Farrell kicked England further ahead with a 31st minute penalty.
But the Wallabies struck back with the Australian pack pushing over for a try for skipper Moore with Bernard Foley landing the conversion from wide out five minutes before half-time.
The try spurred the Wallabies and they finished the opening half pounding the English try-line and only stout defence held them at bay until the Wallabies again lost the ball metres out giving England a reprieve.
England began the second half strongly again dominating field position and the Wallabies were finding it difficult to get out of their half.
Foley was penalised after a linesman intervention and Farrell kicked England six points clear.
The Wallabies pressed the English but numerous handling errors cost them the chance to hit the front in the dogfight with England.
England clinched the game and the series when Farrell toed ahead a loose ball and won the chase to dive on the ball.
He converted to put England out of reach by 13 points.
Farrell kicked another penalty on the siren to ice the victory to huge cheers from the travelling English supporters.