QBE Internationals: England beat Australia in autumn opener
Last Updated: 02/11/13 9:25pm
England captain Chris Robshaw poses with the Cook Cup
England roared back from a 13-6 half-time deficit to beat Australia 20-13 in the first of three QBE Internationals at Twickenham.
Second-half tries from skipper Chris Robshaw and fly-half Owen Farrell - who had earlier shown rare fallibility from the kicking tee - cancelled out Matt Toomua's first-half try for the Wallabies.
Farrell kicked four of seven attempts at goal - including two conversions - while Quade Cooper made all three of his first-half kicks for eight points but missed two second-half penalties.
It was far from a fluent England display against a side that was humbled by South Africa and New Zealand in the recent Rugby Championship, but the victory will serve as a useful marker in the exact mid point between World Cups.
Probably more importantly, it was an eighth win in their last nine matches and ended an Australian run of three wins from their last four visits to Twickenham.
But England had spluttered their way through a first half where they lacked the cutting edge required to win a Test match.
One fear before the match that England's dominant scrum would be blunted following the loss of Alex Corbisiero proved to be unfounded, as Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole were in charge throughout against their Wallaby counterparts.
Farrell's first penalty attempt sailed over but his next three were wayward, a couple of off-key moments turning into desperation from the normally reliable Saracens number ten.
Israel Folau shone every time a high ball was sent his way - not exactly a rare occurance in a cautious first quarter - but scrum and lineout woes unravelled promising field position for the Wallabies.
With Australia's penalty count rapidly rising, Michael Hooper was fortunate to avoid yellow as England finally re-took the lead. This time Farrell glanced the ball the right direction off the post.
Folau continued to be at the heart of Australia's best efforts and he busted Chris Ashton's tackle, released by a superb flat pass from Cooper, to create the first try for Toomua as the centre barreled his way over a weak attempted tackle Billy Twelvetrees three metres from the line.
Cooper's penalty momemts later - after Twelvetrees failed to roll away - gave Australia a 13-6 advantage going into the interval.
Questionable decision-making hurt England early in the second half, when Marland Yarde was penalised for a late tackle, but Cooper's penalty faded away to the left.
England needed a lucky break and after Mike Brown clearly lost the ball into touch and Chris Ashton botched a quick penalty, Yarde was given a chance to Test the Wallabies down the left wing. He nearly made them pay with a bright burst down the touchline, but was tackled into touch by Adam Ashley-Cooper.
From the resulting lineout, Genia's kick was charged down by Tom Wood for Robshaw to pounce on the loose ball for an opportunistic try.
Farrell levelled the scores, then arrived on a perfect left-to right line to bust the Australian defence and race over under the posts.
Cooper missed another crucial penalty opportunity to keep England ahead by seven heading towards the final ten minutes, as the Wallabies had to look for a try.
A sharp counter-attack from Nick Cummins had England scrambling and with seven points needed, they kicked into the corner. It looked threatening and edged closer to the five-metre line, until Ben Alexander coughed up the ball and the Wallabies' hopes with it.
QBE Internationals 2013: England v Australia
England's inaccuracy in the backs is a huge concern ahead of New Zealand clash, says Stuart Barnes.
Stuart Barnes says England's performance against Australia won't have worried New Zealand.
Will Greenwood says that England's strong team ethos got them across the line against Australia.