Michael Chieka (the Australian coach) in the hope of making the series 1-1, made 2 changes in the front row with Sekope Kepu coming in for Greg Holmes and Scott Sio being replaced by James Slipper. Sam Carter came in for Rob Simmons and perhaps the most notable change, Sean McMahon coming in for the injured David Pocock who will miss the rest of the series with a fractured eye socket.
England however, named an unchanged forward pack but the backs had been tweaked. George Ford started at 10 with Owen Farrell moving to 12 and Jack Nowell in for Marland Yarde on the wing.
England knew that if they were to win in Melbourne, a test series win in Oz would be theirs.
Questions were asked about the the pitch and it was clear from the first scrum that the pitch would not hold up. The first time that England had played at AAMI Park and it did not seem in shape.
After 20 minutes of hotly contested rugby and superb defence from England, the game saw the first try. A lineout near the Australian line resulted in England captain Dylan Hartley burrowing over after strong work at the maul from the England forwards, and Owen Farrell! He then converted the try.
It went from bad to worse when Sean McMahon dived into a ruck in kickable range of Farrell (basically anywhere). Undoubtedly, Farrell converted again.
However, straight from the restart Australia were attacking and after a few minutes of battering away at the ‘Wall of White shirts’ Stephen Moore dotted down. Both captains had snatched a score and after the conversion from Bernard Foley, both kickers had got a conversion. The only thing that separated the 2 teams was the Owen Farrell penalty.
The momentum seemed to have swung in Australia’s favour because yet again they were building a powerful attack in England territory. A scrum seemed to end the half but when Billy Vunipola kicked the ball out after 40 minutes we had to play on. This was due to the stadium hooter not sounding despite the clock having surpassed 40 minutes.
Despite having another shot at taking the lead more terrific England defence left Australia frustrated as they walked in.
They did not take kindly to the celebrations of the England players at the end of the half and carried a fiery first half as they walked in the tunnel. Owen Farrell was pushed around by some Australian forwards much to his own amusement!
HALF TIME AUSTRALIA 7 – 10 ENGLAND
After 10 minutes it was clear that the high maintenance first half, had continued into the second. Nigel Owens flagged for some potential foul play from “12 white on 10 Gold” (Owen Farrell on Bernard Foley). However, it went the opposite way. Bernard Foley had deliberately obstructed Owen Farrell, so what looked like a shoulder check was actually Foley running into Farrell. With the penalty reversed, Farrell called for the tee and struck a nice penalty from a tight angle.
Owen Farrell topped off a superb performance by cancelling any Australian hope there still was. Jamie George exploited a good burst from Courtney Lawes, GRUBBERED THROUGH and the Saracens fly half dashed onto the ball and then converted his own try. As the clock turned red, Farrell hit ANOTHER penalty from long distance. That took England to a series win in Australia!
FULL TIME AUSTRALIA 7 – 23 ENGLAND
MAN OF THE MATCH
This might seem to be becoming a regular thing and I may seem biased but Owen Farrell has had a tour of dreams. He has got to be the main candidate for player of the tour. He scored all of England’s points apart from the Dylan Hartley try. Thoroughly deserved his match winning try. Yet again a superb performance!