Tries: Hooper (2), Folau, Kudridrani
Pens: Foley (2)
Tries: Nowell, Yarde, Joseph
Cons: Farrell (3)
Pens: Farrell (6)
England’s 39-28 victory over Australia is a huge step towards success in 2019 with their first win down under with Eddie Jones at the helm.
Firstly, James Haskell, doubted by many including myself has grown into one of the leaders since Eddie Jones took charge. Haskell was a target along with back row partner Robshaw following the World Cup.
Today the Wasps captain was immense in defence one hit he made on David Pocock was huge and a number of other crucial hits were made over the eighty minutes. Haskell also won a number of turnovers against Australia, the fact that Australia toor practically the same team apart only eight months ago is hard to believe after today.
The difference Eddie Jones has made to the team is immeasurable. He has changed what was a hugely underachieving back row into one of the best units in the world. Hartley has become a totem of self-control, Watson has evolved into one of the most dangerous finishers in world rugby, Vunipola is the best eight north of the equator and the second row pairing of Itoje and Kruis is unstoppable.
Today England opted to start with the power pairing of Owen Farrell and Luther Burrell, the fact Jones was not afraid to make the change early in the game the confidence he had to bring on Ford made the game.
Most coaches would not have had the courage to take Burrell off during the first half, the centre came off though and England bloomed. The playmaking skill of Ford and Farrell opened Australia up. Ford himself setting up two tries, one with a floated pass to Yarde and the subtle chip through for Nowell.
The Grand Slam winning combination has now beaten Australia in Brisbane, England’s highest ever total in Australia. The demons of the Tour from Hell look to have been put to bed now. The Suncorp Stadium has been conquered.
Farrell was outstanding off the tee only missing one kick, his passing game was beautiful it flowed allowing England to unleash the dangerous wide backs of Watson and Yarde. His defensive game was greatly utilised when Ford entered the fray, it allowed Farrell to step up and stop Kerevi and Kuridrani terrorising England.
Another selection that is hugely controversial was that of Marland Yarde on the wing rather than Exeter’s Jack Nowell. Yarde though was excellent today his raw pace gave him a try and couple of important half breaks. His performance has surely won him a place in the team despite Nowell’s outstanding finish for England’s third try.
The series is not over and the second test will be a monumental battle as with the third, Australia will not just lie down. England though look to be improving at a rate of knots, the series is well and truly underway.
My England 23 for the second test:
1 Mako Vunipola 2 Dylan Hartley (Captain) 3 Dan Cole 4 Maro Itoje 5 George Kruis 6 Chris Robshaw 7 James Haskell 8 Billy Vunipola
9 Ben Youngs 10 George Ford 11 Marland Yarde 12 Owen Farrell 13 Jonathan Joseph 14 Anthony Watson 15 Mike Brown
16 Jamie George 17 Matt Mullan 18 Paul Hill 19 Joe Launchbury 20 Courtney Lawes 21 Danny Care 22 Luther Burrell 23 Jack Nowell