England laid down a serious marker with a hugely impressive result against Australia in Saturday’s first Test in Brisbane.
Both sides will have things to improve on ahead of next Saturday’s rematch in Melbourne, but here are five things we have learned so far.
England side is built on solid foundations
Despite a shaky opening 15 minutes for the tourists, England’s defence rose to the occasion with James Haskell, Maro Itoje and Chris Robshaw proving a menacing threat to the Australians at the breakdown.
In the line-out, the Aussies lacked an imposing athlete to take command and this is where Itoje terrorised the hosts with a number of outstanding fetches.
At maul time, England’s front row was utterly dominant and forced mistakes from the Aussies which resulted in kickable penalties for Owen Farrell to convert.
Discipline a huge factor
Though Australia held the upperhand in areas such as possession count and metres run, their poor discipline proved costly.
Repeated infringements around the ruck area led to the concession of a number of soft penalties (15 in comparison to England’s eight) and this effectively had them chasing the game for much of the second half.
With three minutes remaining and Australia trailing 25-32, captain Stephen Moore and Bernard Foley opted to go for the posts from 40 metres when a kick to the corner seemed a better option to chase a converted try. Foley did slot the kick to cut the deficit to four, but could the Aussies have barreled over under the posts to level it up?
Kicking is crucial
England’s dominance up front was backed by the unerring boot of Farrell who kicked 24 points in a virtuoso display at out-half. In contrast, the usually reliable Foley miscued three out of six efforts, two of which could have taken the gloss off the visitors nine point win.
Haskell is a beast
It would be criminal not to give Haskell a mention for what was his best display in an England shirt. At 31, the Wasps man has been reborn under Eddie Jones and looks a real livewire in attack and defence.
His ability to contain David Pocock – viewed by many as one of the best backrowers in the game – was allied with workrate, leadership and huge hits. Haskell will be a central figure in Melbourne if England are to clinch the series.
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