England last night defeated Australia in the third and final match of the Cook Cup Test Series, emerging victorious 44-40 in an entertaining encounter.
Coach Eddie Jones and his English side delivered the Wallabies their first white-wash on Australian turf in 45 years and their first loss at Allianz Stadium since 1995.
Despite it being a dead rubber, this was a thoroughly engrossing match: the Wallabies showed no signs of being a team that had already lost the series, holding a tight lead for much of the match, while the English team clearly had the desire to grind through for their third win.
England’s prop Dan Cole crashed over on 11 minutes to establish the lead, then a Bernard Foley try and conversion levelled the scores just two minutes later. The Wallabies were showing greater energy in all aspects of their play in comparison with the first two games of the series and their effort paid off, sending Dane Haylett-Petty across in the corner for his first test try.
The Wallabies then conceded points to England fullback Mike Brown, who gathered cleanly to score a stunning try after a neat chip from winger Anthony Watson bounced up perfectly for him. Despite that, two penalty goals from Bernard Foley were enough to keep the Wallabies narrowly ahead at half-time.
England began the second half strongly as Billy Vunipola took on the Wallabies defence from the scrum. Owen Farrell managed to keep his side in the contest with two penalty goals on either side of a Michael Hooper five-pointer before some penetrative running and an Israel Folau try steered Australia back in front. But the Australians conceded three too many penalties within range, then reserve Jamie George dived on a loose ball to open a healthy lead. There was some consolation for the Wallabies as Taqele Naiyaravoro scored out wide, but the loss could not be averted.
The 24-year-old Owen Farrell was named man of the match after three conversions and six successful penalty goals for a personal tally of 24 points. Michael Hooper was named best on field for Australia.The crowd of 44,063 at Allianz Stadium was the largest for a sporting event in the ground’s 28-year history.
It was a great day for English rugby: England also won the U20 World Championships in Manchester last night, defeating Ireland 45-21. (The news for Australia was less exciting. In a play-off for 5th and 6th places New Zealand beat the Australian under-20s 55-24.) – Patrick Staveley
Photo of England captain Dylan Hartley and Eddie Jones with the Cook Cup from the England Rugby Twitter feed.