England complete whitewash of Australia in epic fashion
Published 25/06/2016 | 14:27
England concluded a glorious season by completing a 3-0 series whitewash of Australia with a 44-40 victory over the Wallabies 44-40 at Allianz Stadium.
A thrilling third Test saw the lead repeatedly change hands and, once the final whistle blew on two well-matched teams, the try-count read 5-4 in the hosts' favour, but it was kicking of Owen Farrell that ultimately proved the difference.
The Saracens playmaker amassed 24 points through six penalties and three conversions and missed just one of his 10 shots at goal, and his outstanding shift was recognised with the man of the match award.
Dan Cole, Mike Brown, Billy Vunipola and Jamie George crossed for the tourists and this was comfortably their best attacking display of the series, inflicting upon Australia their first 3-0 series defeat since 1971.
England's record under Eddie Jones is becoming remarkable with the rout of the Wallabies, who reached the final of last autumn's World Cup, delivered a mere three months after the Grand Slam.
Jones has yet to taste defeat in his nine matches in charge and the Red Rose have extended their triumphant sequence to 10 wins, just four short of the record set during Sir Clive Woodward's reign.
They end the season placed second in the world rankings and, for the second time in two weeks, they set a new record for the number of match points they have scored in the southern hemisphere.
Once more Jones displayed his ruthless streak, withdrawing Teimana Harrison after only 31 minutes in a change that had echoes of the first Test when Luther Burrell was pulled at a similar point due to his defensive lapses.
Harrison was winning his second cap after James Haskell had been ruled out by a foot injury, but Jones clearly did not like what he was seeing from the Northampton openside and so brought on Courtney Lawes with Maro Itoje switching to six.
Any notion of English fatigue at the end of a season that has spanned a year due to the World Cup and its build-up was quickly dispelled as Australia came under early pressure.
Jack Nowell was influential with a dart down the right wing and a brilliant touch-finder, Billy Vunipola made inroads as a midfield battering ram and George Ford attacked the line with intent.
Australia cracked in the 11th minute, a barnstorming carry from Mako Vunipola scattering defenders before Ben Youngs slipped the scoring pass out of the tackle to Cole.
The Wallabies' response was immediate with a defensive lapse from Nowell enabling Israel Folau to roam down the left touchline and there were gold shirts queuing up in support until Bernard Foley strolled over.
And it was all too easy as Australia capitalised on the tourists' fragile tackling to plunder their second try after quick hands sent wing Dane Haylett-Petty in at the right corner.
A Farrell penalty, won when a scrum collapsed, momentarily steadied English nerves but Foley was able to reply in kind after Sean McMahon and Michael Hooper combined at the breakdown to tie up Jonathan Joseph.
Giant second row Matt Skelton was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson and on the next attack England were able to take the lead.
George Kruis sent a sharp pass to Watson and the Bath wing chipped infield for Brown to collect and touch down after riding a desperate late tackle from Tevita Kuridrani, celebrating the score with a roar towards the crowd.
It was England's turn to score a simple try five minutes into the second half when a five-metre scrum saw Billy Vunipola collect and surge over the whitewash, running over Haylett-Petty in the process.
Michael Hooper was slow to react and was still fixed to the scrum as Vunipola used his power to blast across the line.
However, Hooper atoned in the next meaningful passage of play after a spell of sustained pressure from the Wallabies ended with the openside taking a short pass from Nick Phipps and reaching out to touch down.
The lead continued to change hand at a rate of knots and Australia were back in front when Matt Toomua darted between Vunipola and Jack Clifford and slipped a wonderful offload to Folau to cross.
There was an element of farce about England's next try as a succession of errors from both teams ended with Danny Care passing to the feet of George, who saw the ball bounce off his shin and over the line, enabling him to cross.
In contrast to the second Test when Australia repeatedly refused shots at goal in favour of attacking line-outs, they were only too happy to take the points and Foley sent one between the uprights.
England's lead now read only six points, but Itoje forced a late penalty and inevitably Farrell was on target to put the result beyond doubt, although Taqele Naiyaravoro fell over the line deep into stoppage time to give the Wallabies the final say.