Australia 30-28 England
OPTUS STADIUM, PERTH- No-one can say England were not warned but they will be kicking themselves they did not leave Perth with a win. They knew what was coming from Australia but they just couldn’t deal with it and head to Brisbane next week needing a win to stay in the series.
The Australian tactics were obvious the minute Dave Rennie announced his team on Thursday and England couldn’t do anything about it.
Rennie filled his pack with prime Brumbie beef to try and at least stay in the fight with England’s traditionally more powerful pack. This was a less than traditional Australian approach where some old time forwards still have nightmares about the going over Andrew Sheridan gave them in 2005 and 2007.
And this was miles away from the run it from anywhere approach Michael Cheika tried, unsuccessfully, in seven straight defeats to England. Rennie lost at Twickenham in the autumn and he learned a lesson.
If your forwards are in the game it gives you a fighting chance. And the Aussie forwards were in the game all right even when Darcy Swain was sent off for his headbutt on Jonny Hill.
His dismissal, and Hill’s yellow for pulling Swain’s hair, capped 34 minutes when the pair had been winding each other up like a pair of kids in the playground. And England’s man advantage, for the entire second half, should have seen them ease to a 1-0 lead in the series.
But Aussies, as they say down here, are good at doing it tough and they did it tough here. Even when Quade Cooper was ruled out in the warm-up, full-back Tom Banks broke his arm in the first half and prop Allan Ala’alatoa was concussed. No drama – the Wallabies just doubled down up front as England fired blanks.
Rennie gave debuts to former London Irish hooker Dave Porecki and lock Cadeyrn Neville, at 33 the oldest Wallaby debutant this century, and his faith was repaid in spades. Porecki was clean as a whistle with his throwing in, with Australia losing just one line-out on their own ball. That was against an England side fielding line out specialists Maro Itoje, Hill and Courtney Lawes. A big tick for Rennie.
The next tick for Rennie and his pack was up front. Early on, England got the nudge on at scrum-time with Ellis Genge and Will Stuart dominant. That all turned in the second half, James Slipper was on for the Wallabies by then, and it was another one in the eye for the supposed England forward dominance.
Michael Hooper performed his usual heroics on the floor, his fellow back rowers Rob Leota and Rob Valetini carried hard and Angus Bell risked expulsion from the Front Row Union with one charge down the left-hand side.
Then came the Australian bench with Slipper, Scott Sio plus Pete Samu and Matt Philip all heroic as they put their bodies on the line and made more of an impact than any English replacement, barring Lewis Ludlam.
Those forwards provided the platform for Samu Kerevi and co to do their stuff out wide when England should have been the ones scoring the points. The big lads up front earned their beer last night and, with his selection and tactics, Rennie earned a cold one too.
This content was originally published here.