England Scrum Flattens Australia

Ben Morgan England Australia Wallabies RugbyEngland got their scalp that they so desperately wanted, but didn’t really show anything that would suggest their World Cup chances have increased. Australia was monstered up front, which would have surprised few if any. The English forwards have a history of trampling Wallabies, and this year’s Australian vintage has been as average as it gets in international rugby. Both tries were a product of the scrum, and the rest of the points came courtesy of George Ford’s boot. It was shades of 1999, but the game has moved on, and such tactics won’t succeed for long.

Out wide the Australian backline looked far more likely. Adam Ashley-Cooper made numerous breaks and it’s a shame Tevita Kuridrani wasn’t fit to play or the result might well have been different. As it was the Wallabies were still in the game until the late moments, and had Israel Folau’s pass to a wide open Rob Horne not gone astray, they would have had a shot at a conversion for the win. To do so with such little success in the tight should be concerning to the England camp.

England’s game plan was meat and potatoes. Scrum, maul, kick for territory and hold the defensive line. It was effective, but none of the top teams will be at all threatened by what they saw. One look at the stats tells the story. The Australian midfield had 29 carries – the English combined for 4. Brad Barritt, the no13, passed the ball once. From an attacking perspective, that is depressing stuff.

Michael Cheika won’t be too upset at the result, there will certainly be no sense of panic in the camp. It’s no secret that they need to find a couple horses in the second row, and some depth at prop. Thankfully there is still time for one to emerge in Super Rugby, and for Will Skelton to get fitter. If they can solve that issue and win close to parity up front, they will cause problems for everyone, with a back division worthy of envy the world over.

The win does help Stuart Lancaster’s team clear a mental hurdle, and that should be dividends enough come their pool encounter next October. It’s far from a guarantee of victory, however. If anything, it illuminates the gaping whole in the English side. Their back division is a total mess with only fullback and possibly outside centre nailed down, presuming Manu Tuilagi is restored once he regains fitness.

Despite a bumpy tour Australia seems to have some positive momentum building behind them again. At least there haven’t been any more off field incidents. With England, though back on the winning track, one can’t help but feel that they have regressed, and unless things change rapidly the Six Nations could be a rough ride.

Saturday, November 29, 14:30 GMT, London

03 mins – B. Foley pen 0-3
07 mins – G. Ford pen 3-3
12 mins – G. Ford pen 6-3
29 mins – B. Morgan try 11-3
29 mins – G. Ford con 13-3
44 mins – B. Foley try 13-8
45 mins – B. Foley con 13-10
56 mins – B. Morgan try 18-10
57 mins – G. Ford con 20-10
60 mins – W. Skelton try 20-15
61 mins – Q. Cooper con 20-17
63 mins – G. Ford pen 23-17
77 mins – G. Ford pen 26-17

M. Brown; A. Watson, B. Barritt (O. Farrell 61-68) (M. Yarde 78), B. Twelvetrees (O. Farrell 68), J. May; G. Ford, B. Youngs (R. Wigglesworth 69); J. Marler (M. Mullan 54), D. Hartley (R. Webber 71), D. Wilson (K. Brookes 61); D. Attwood, C. Lawes (G. Kruis 54 {T. Wood 78}); T. Wood (J. Haskell 77), C. Robshaw (capt.), B. Morgan.

I. Folau; H. Speight (K. Beale 64), A. Ashley-Cooper, M. To’omua, R. Horne; B. Foley (Q. Cooper 45), N. Phipps (N. White 50); J. Slipper (B. Robinson 68), S. Fainga’a, S. Kepu (B. Alexander 52); R. Simmons (L. Jones HT), S. Carter; S. McMahon (W. Skelton 58), M. Hooper (capt.), B. Morgan.

Referee: J. Garces (FFR)
Assistants: N. Owens (WRU) & P. Gauzere (FFR)
TMO: S. McDowell (IRFU)

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