#360view: Clinical England ruthlessly exploit Wallaby mistakes

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Winners: England.

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.

Maro Itoje and George Kruis in action against the Wallabies.

Maro Itoje and George Kruis in action against the Wallabies.

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.

Australia captain Stephen Moore.

Australia captain Stephen Moore.

Suspect decision-making

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.

Owen Farrell.

Owen Farrell.

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.

James Haskell.

James Haskell.

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England crush Australia in first Brisbane Test

Sport360 staff 11/06/2016
England players celebrate their team's victory.

England gave themselves a great chance of an historic series victory over Australia after recovering from an ominous start to crush the Wallabies 39-28 at Suncorp Stadium.

Early tries by Michael Hooper and Israel Folau threatened to overrun the Grand Slam champions but they responded magnificently with Jonathan Joseph, Marland Yarde and Jack Nowell crossing.

The boot of Owen Farrell, who had replaced George Ford at fly-half, did the majority of the scoreboard damage as England sealed only their fourth victory Down Under in 18 matches.

Nowell plundered his try in the final minute of a pulsating showdown in Brisbane as Australia went in search of a match-winning try of their own.

England head to Melbourne for next Saturday’s second Test knowing one more win would complete a series triumph over the World Cup finalists and identify them as a genuine force in the global game.

Head coach Eddie Jones remains unbeaten since taking over at Twickenham and now has seven Test victories in the bank, but the most recent of these – against the side he once coached – is by far the most precious.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Kieran Read celebrated his elevation to the All Blacks captaincy by leading a come-from-behind victory as his team produced a lethal finish to crush Wales 39-21 in the first Test in Auckland.

In a Test which swung from scintillating to scrappy, in the end it was the pace and intensity of the All Blacks in the closing 20 minutes that determined the outcome.

It was an “awesome feeling” said Read who takes over from World Cup winning skipper Richie McCaw.

“The boys showed some belief and showed that connection that we needed. It was a tight spot.”

Read paid credit to the All Blacks bench who come on to pick up the speed of the game when it mattered.

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Warburton: Wales must take the game to New Zealand

Sport360 staff 11/06/2016
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On the attack: Sam Warburton.

Sam Warburton will give his players a simple message when they attempt to turn back the clock against world champions New Zealand on Saturday – who dares, wins.

The Welsh skipper, fit to return to action in Auckland after a six-week stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, wants his team to be bold as they attempt to become the first team since France in 1994 to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park.

If they can do that it would be one of the biggest upsets in the game’s recent history and would end a 63-year wait for a fourth win over New Zealand.

Since they last beat the All Blacks, 13-8 in Cardiff on December 19 1953, they have lost 26 consecutive games.

“The players are motivated given the very poor record we’ve got against New Zealand and we are all desperate to change that,” said Warburton. “We are going to have to take a few risks and we can’t afford to be conservative and expect to win.

“The thing with New Zealand is you’re only ever one mistake away from conceding seven points and two from 14 points – the scoreboard can change within the click of your fingers. Being able to concentrate for the full 80 is very important. You have to take risks – he who dares, wins.”

Warren Gatland’s side have an edge in terms of experience – 765 caps in their starting 15 to the All Blacks’ 580 – but that is about the only statistic in their favour.

Alun Wyn Jones will win his 100th cap and Warburton is one of four changes from the side that lost to England two weeks ago.

The All Blacks are unbeaten at home in their last 38 Tests stretching back to 2009 and have lost only twice in their last 40 internationals. And head coach Steve Hansen – who coached Wales between 2002-2004 – says today’s game is the starting point on the journey through to their Rugby World Cup defence in 2019.

“Whilst the opposition might believe that we’re vulnerable because it’s our first Test and we have lost some experienced players, we don’t have that mindset,” he said. “We’re well aware that this is a good Welsh team and not one that we’ll underestimated.

“There’s enough history written about how long it has been since Wales beat New Zealand and it’s going to happen one day. This is a really good Welsh side and it could happen this weekend if we don’t turn up and play as well as we can.

“I think then you’d really see them singing in the valleys.”

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