England slump at Twickenham
Wallabies wallop ill-disciplined England
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 16/11/08 11:28am
Wallabies celebrations begin
A powerful performance by Australia at Twickenham on Saturday saw Martin Johnson experience his first defeat since taking over as England manager.
Twenty points from the boot of Matt Giteau, a try by Adam Ashley-Cooper and a long distance effort from Stirling Mortlock saw the Wallabies emerge 28-14 victors at the headquarters of English rugby.
In stark contrast to the last encounter between the two sides in the World Cup quarter-final in Marseille, it was the Aussie pack who were the dominant force this time around.
Despite a try from Nick Easter, England's performance was characterised by ill-discipline and too many errors, which were quickly pounced upon by a more experienced, smarter Australian side.
The Wallabies got off to a great start, Matt Giteau nudging the visitors into a 3-0 lead inside two minutes with a 36 metre penalty after England were penalised for going over at the ruck.
And three minutes later when England were caught offside at the line out, Giteau took full advantage of an easy opportunity to double the lead.
Danny Cipriani missed the chance to close the gap at the 13 minute mark after Australia were penalised at the breakdown, drifting his kick wide of the posts.
Seven minutes later though, the fly-half almost set the Twickenham crowd alight when he opened up the Wallaby defence with a fabulous burst of speed.
It was only some desperate scrambling back that prevented Nick Easter going over in the corner as the number eight was bundled into touch just inches short.
But, when Australia failed to clear their lines far enough from the resulting line out, a brilliant piece of individualism saw Delon Armitage slot an audacious drop goal to give England their first three points.
But the hosts could not iron out their mistakes in the scrum and within five minutes Giteau was gifted yet another penalty to restore the Aussies six point lead.
Another error by the hosts on 30 minutes and another three points from the fly-half extended the Wallabys lead to 12-3.
A brilliant surging attack from the England forwards saw Sheridan cross under the posts but the video official could not confirm that the ball had not been held up.
But England kept up the pressure from the resulting scrum and an impressive display of power from the pack paid off at the third drive for the line, Easter going over despite some magnificent defending by the visitors.
Cipriani failed to add the extras making it two missed kicks from two. But with a minute to go before half time, he made sure of the points from a penalty wide on the right to take England to 11-12.
Another soft penalty at the death however and Giteau looked likely cancel them out almost straight away, but it was only a rare miss from the Aussie's boot that sent England into the break trailing by a single point.
Seven minutes into the second half and Cipriani tore apart the Wallaby defence for the second time with a sublime run down the middle before being hauled down 10 metres short
But with England threatening the Aussie line and the try looking inevitable the hero quickly turned villain, opting for the drop goal and missing from right under the posts.
At the 50 minute mark, with a penalty in hand, he tried the drop goal again and missed, but found the target with the resulting place kick, taking the score to 14-12 and handing England the lead for the first time.
The advantage would not last for long though and just three minutes later Giteau cancelled out the points with a kick of his own from wide on the right to restore the Aussie advantage.
Within another three minutes England had conceded yet another kickable penalty, this time for holding on, and the surefooted Giteau was on target to give his side a four point buffer.
England were penalised for handling in the scrum on 64 minutes and up stepped long distance man Stirling Mortlock to nail a 48 metre effort and take the Aussies into a 21-14 lead.
Four minutes later and Australia effectively took the game away from England when Giteau exploited a woeful defence to move the ball out wide.
With yellow shirts outnumbering white by two to one on the right, England could do little to prevent Ashley-Cooper crossing for a simple score in the corner.
The relentless Giteau added the extras, taking the visitors score to 28-14 and leaving England a mountain which they would find impossible to climb in the final ten.