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May's double sends England past Australia and into World Cup semi-final

Eddie Jones’ side flexed their muscle in the first of the quarter-final ties in Oita.

May celebrates his second try against the Wallabies.
May celebrates his second try against the Wallabies.
Image: Ashley Western

England 40

Australia 16

ENGLAND FLEXED THEIR considerable muscle and, without ever needing to get out of second gear, emphatically booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals with a commanding victory over the Wallabies in Oita.

Jonny May’s first-half double put England in the driving seat in the first of the quarter-final ties, and Eddie Jones’ side were always in control from there as they advanced through to a semi-final against either the All Blacks or Ireland.

Marika Koroibete’s superb score at the start of the second period had briefly threatened to launch a Wallabies comeback, but England showed their power in impressively responding through Kyle Sinckler.

With the English pack dominating at the set-piece and up front, and Australia making a string of unforced errors, Owen Farrell applied the stranglehold further as he kicked 20 points from the tee.

England embellished a powerful performance in the closing stages as Anthony Watson crossed for their fourth try after picking off Kurtley Beale’s looping pass, as the 2003 champions underlined their title credentials. 

England will now move on to Yokohama for next Saturday’s last-four tie, while Michael Cheika’s reign as Australia head coach ends with his side barely throwing a punch in this quarter-final. 

May crossed twice in the space of four first-half minutes to give England, who were eliminated on home soil four years ago courtesy of a pool-stage defeat to the Wallabies, a lead they never relinquished.

Jones’ men have now won seven successive Tests against Australia since that painful 2015 defeat and will march on to the semi-finals on the back of a clinical display.

Teenage back Jordan Petaia – a bold selection from Cheika at outside centre – was prominent in a superb start for the underdogs, but the Wallabies’ early dominance only yielded three points from Christian Lealiifano.

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Having been initially pegged back by Australia’s direct running and impressive ruck speed, England dramatically seized the initiative through May.

The Leicester wing’s first score was a straightforward one as he accepted Curry’s delayed pass to go over in the left corner, after Manu Tuilagi had played a key role in marching England forward.

taniela-tupou-dejected-as-england-players-celebrate-after-the-game England march on. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A more eye-catching try quickly followed when Henry Slade intercepted a loose pass from David Pocock. Slade did not have the legs to reach the line, but he kicked ahead for May, who gathered calmly and outpaced Samu Kerevi to dot down again.

Farrell, playing at out-half for the first time in the tournament, twice converted from the left touchline and added a simple penalty in between two three-pointers from Lealiifano, ensuring England led 17-9 at the interval.

Australia briefly reduced their deficit to a solitary point as Koroibete streaked over from Petaia’s inside pass, only for England to respond immediately, Farrell’s flat cut-out pass laying on a try for Sinckler.

England never looked back thereafter and skipper Farrell kicked three further penalties before Watson’s 76th-minute interception try rubbed salt in Australia’s wounds.

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