The Wallabies slipped to their third defeat on its end-of-season Spring Tour as Michael Cheika’s charges were defeated by England 26-17 at Twickenham. While both teams lined up for the national anthems, the Home of English Rugby paid tribute to the late Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes with a minute’s applause. In a first half bereft of genuine try-scoring chances, England took a 10-point advantage to the break.
Despite Bernard Foley opening the scoring for Australia after just three minutes when Ben Morgan was penalised at the breakdown, the lead was short-lived. George Ford levelled matters after the tourists were ruled to be offside. Ford kicked the home side into the lead on 12 minutes. Referee Jerome Garces ruled that full-back Mike Brown was impeded by Ben McCalman and fly half Ford slotted over from 40 metres.
The closest the Aussies came to crossing the white line came in the first period came on the quarter-hour mark when Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper combined to leave the outside centre metres from the England try line. The only try of the first half came 13 minutes before the break when the impressive Morgan powered over after a dominant English scrum. The Gloucester eighthman latched on to a pass from Tom Wood to touch down and hand the English a 13-3 lead at half-time.
With Brumbies star Matt Toomua at the heart of everything that was good about the Wallabies performance, the Green and Gold started the second half on the front foot and within five minutes had reduced the arrears. Rob Horne’s inside pass caught out England’s rushing defence and Bernard Foley was set free to score right under the posts. The NSW Waratahs playmaker duly added the extras.
England hit back on 55 minutes when the Wallabies were unable to sustain pressure at the scrum five metres out and Morgan once again scored to increase their advantage. Ford’s successful conversion gave England a 20-10 lead. However, within two minutes the game was back in the melting pot. With substitute Quade Cooper pulling the strings in midfield, a patient Wallabies attack eventually saw another replacement – Will Skelton – withstand pressure from three England defenders to score.
Quade Cooper kicked the conversion to bring the deficit back to three points. An infringement at the England line out allowed George Ford to knock over another penalty goal and extend their lead with 17 minutes left on the clock. After Rob Horne was unable to collect an Israel Folau pass as a golden try-scoring opportunity went begging, Ford kicked a match-sealing penalty with four minutes to go when the Wallabies were penalised for an unlucky 13th time in the match to hand next year’s World Cup hosts a 26-17 win.