England’s team was rather similar to their Grand Slam winning one. Joe Marler, who decided to not come on the tour, was replaced by Mako Vunipola while Marland Yarde and Luther Burrell kept their place from the victory over Wales 2 weeks before. The most notable omission was George Ford who was moved to the bench due to a horrific display against Wales. Owen Farrell dropped in at fly-half.
On the other hand, Australia had brought in three debutants. Rory Arnold in the second row, Samu Kerevi at inside centre and workman Dane Haylett-Petty on the wing. All 3 especially Samu Kerevi have been superb during the Super Rugby season.
England travelled to Australia knowing that the odds were stacked against them. A series win seemed merely impossible and the first test in Brisbane was another big no-no; the Wallabies had never lost to England in Brisbane and the Red Roses had only ever one 4 games on Australian soil…
It was clear from the start that Australia were in an upper-class to England; just 3 minutes in, Israel Folau made a telling break and delivered a lovely pass to Michael Hooper. Anthony Watson stopped him short of the line but after a crash ball, the ball found it’s way back to Hooper who darted over. Foley put his left of the upright but the Wallabies were back at it again 7 minutes later when Israel Folau beat the backpedalling England defensive line to slide in and extend the Ozzy lead.
Owen Farrell brought England back into it with 2 nicely struck penalties however it did not last long…
Foley seemed to have redeemed himself from 2 missed conversion when he made an amazing break, danced past 50 cap man, Mike Brown, and dotted down. However, it was not to be. After Romain Poite called for TMO, replays showed that Rory Arnold, the Australian second row, had obstructed Luther Burrell from making the tackle.
Yet again Owen Farrell struck a penalty to just to chip away at the lead and next he would play a pivotal role in England’s try. He rushed up on his opposite number, Bernard Foley, who delivered a horrible pass to Samu Kerevi who failed to pick up the loose ball and after more pressure from Farrell, Jonathan Joseph managed to dive over. Farrell converted.
Foley and Farrell also exchanged penalties before the break.
HALF TIME AUSTRALIA 13 – 19 ENGLAND
Australia would have had a bit of a telling off at half time but it was clear that England were ready for the Wallaby fight back…
James Haskell broke free from a maul and England made the most of a good attacking position when a nice pass from George Ford found it’s way to Marland Yarde who had the simple job of a jog over. Despite another Owen Farrell conversion and penalty, Australia refused to lie down.
More exquisite handling from the Ozzy backs gave Michael Hopper another easy run in. Foley would then rue another missed conversion attempt when Owen Farrell got another kick!
Dane Haylett-Petty then set up a great field position after linking up with Bernard Foley. The next phase, Tevita Kuridrani found a hole between Danny Care and George Ford a made the 5 metre crash ball to take him over the line. Foley added a penalty and then notched a penalty. The Wallabies were not done yet…
However as the hooter sounded, a neat kick from George Ford was exploited by Jack Nowell who dived over on the touchline. Just to top things off, Owen Farrell superbly struck the conversion from the touchline!!!
FULL TIME AUSTRALIA 28 – 39 ENGLAND