THE WALLABIES KICKED off their European tour with a 20-13 loss to England at Twickenham this afternoon and offered Ireland some encouraging signs of frailty.
Australia had the better of the first half in open play, with a 13-6 lead reflecting their slight edge. Out-half Quade Cooper kicked two penalties and also converted Matt Toomua’s try after 30 minutes. The score stemmed from a superb Cooper pass that allowed Israel Folau to make a break up the left-hand side.
Possession was recycled through four phases before Toomua broke through Billy Twelvetrees’ weak tackle attempt to dot down close to the posts. England did score two penalties through Owen Farrell, but the 22-year-old was uncharacteristically wasteful otherwise, missing three kickable penalties in the first 40 minutes.
From an Irish point of view, the sight of Australia struggling badly at scrum time will have been encouraging. James Slipper and Ben Alexander gave away three penalties at consecutive scrums in the first half alone, and Ireland should now be focused on targeting the Wallabies in that area later this month.
Similarly positive will have been the mentally feeble nature of Australia’s performance after the interval, as they failed to score again. Chris Robshaw benefited from a block-down of Will Genia’s box kick just two metres out from the Wallabies’ try-line to score, with the TMO confirming that the England captain had indeed dotted down.
Scrum-half Genia continues to struggle for his best form in Australian colours and his knock-on under little pressure the next time Ewan McKenzie’s side attacked was also costly. The buzzing energy he showed against the Lions during the summer is glaringly lacking at the moment.
Billy Vunipola did damage for England with ball in hand. Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images.
Owen Farrell crossed the whitewash in the 57th minute and referee George Clancy decided there had been no obstruction on Stephen Moore after checking with his TMO. The Saracens out-half broke through in the Australian 22 after selling a dummy to Moore and then added the conversion himself.
The Wallabies had plenty of possession in the closing 15 minutes, but they ultimately lacked the creativity to make it count. England’s defence rose to the challenge impressively and ensured the Wallabies start their European tour with a defeat. There were a handful of solid individual performances for Australia, with centre Tevita Kuridrani carrying powerfully in midfield.
McKenzie’s squad now face a trip to Italy, before arriving in Dublin for their clash with Ireland on the 16th of November. Based on today’s evidence, Joe Schmidt and his coaching team will be backing themselves to ensure Ireland’s 10th victory against Australia.
Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >