England 20-13 Australia
England fight back to beat Australia
November 2, 2013
Date/Time: Nov 2, 2013, 14:30 local, 14:30 GMT
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
England 20 - 13 Australia
Attendance: 80691  Half-time: 6 - 13
Tries: Farrell, Robshaw
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 2
Tries: Toomua
Cons: Cooper
Pens: Cooper 2
Owen Farrell races away to score the decisive try for England, England v Australia, Twickenham, November 2, 2013
Owen Farrell finds a gap to score the decisive try for England
© Getty Images

England launched a year described by head coach Stuart Lancaster as "defining" with a spirited 20-13 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

Tries from Chris Robshaw - his first in 18 Test appearances - and Owen Farrell overcame a 13-6 interval deficit to dominate the second half of an ugly match. Farrell endured a mixed afternoon from the kicking tee, missing three of his seven shots at goal, but he recovered well, using his wits to produce the match-winning touch down in the 58th minute.

England were poor in the first half as they failed to capitalise on a dominant scrum and lost their way alarmingly in the third quarter. While they were one dimensional, Australia were far sharper in attack and infinitely more comfortable on the ball, possessing the two best players on the pitch in Quade Cooper and Israel Folau.

Matt Toomua scored the simplest of tries for the Wallabies - Billy Twelvetrees was at fault because of a feeble tackle - while Cooper expertly directed play. But once an error-ridden 10-minute spell that opened the second half had been negotiated, England finally began playing with conviction against their 2015 World Cup group rivals.

Australia still remained dangerous but with Robshaw and Farrell crossing and Cooper missing two penalties, the Cook Cup slipped from their grasp.

Match Analysis

  • Man of the Match: Mike Brown. He was sensational and by far the best player on the field. He frequently took the game to Australia and seldom put a foot wrong.
  • Key Moment: Quade Cooper's penalty miss early in the second-half was the moment the match turned. Gone was Australia's swagger and Twickenham united behind England. Soon after his kick sailed wide, England grabbed their two tries.
  • Hero: For all his criticism after last season's hammering by Wales, Chris Robshaw led from the front today. He repaid Lancaster's trust and the sight of him scoring his first try for England would have been a massive boost for his side.
  • Villain: England's centre partnership is still misfiring. Billy Twelvetrees struggled and his partnership with Joel Tomkins is still a work in progress.
  • Talking Point: How excited should England be about this win? Well, it was essential but there is room for improvement. Ben Youngs shaded Lee Dickson at scrum-half while the lineout improved when Dylan Hartley replaced Tom Youngs. England will need to step it up a gear against Argentina next week before facing the All Blacks.
  • Play of the Game: In the first-half, there was a moment of brilliance from Quade Cooper. His little flick pass from behind his back to Israel Folau was superb and it was a shame the passage of play was not rewarded with a try.
  • Tom Hamilton at Twickenham

England's 2003 World Cup-winning squad performed a lap of honour at half-time and while the current squad lack the class of a decade a ago, Lancaster will have been impressed that his team found a way to win. He had stressed all week the need to hit the ground running after being ambushed 20-14 by the Wallabies last autumn and they appeared to have made the start he demanded when some muscular defending forced a penalty that Farrell nudged over.

A loose chip from Joel Tomkins wasted a promising spell and although Farrell levelled the score after Billy Vunipola has strayed offside, England were in control. The scrum was proving a happy hunting ground, winning a free kick and penalty, but their ascendancy was not mirrored on the scoreboard as Farrell missed two successive penalties.

Ben Alexander was Australia's weak link in July's decisive final Test against the British and Irish Lions and the tighthead prop was enduring another reputation-damaging afternoon in the set piece. He popped up twice and then it was loosehead James Slipper's turn to be penalised after dropping his knee to the floor.

Farrell missed a third shot at goal from long range, but in the 28th minute England finally made some headway. For the first time they ran with intent, Billy Vunipola piercing the first line of defence and Mike Brown taking the ball to the line.

Australia were struggling and amid a warning from referee George Clancy that a yellow card would soon be produced, they infringed again and this time Farrell was on target. The Wallabies' response was brilliant, however, as Folau eased past a missed tackle by Chris Ashton and glided into space with reinforcements arriving quickly at the ensuing breakdown.

Will Genia tried to dummy his way over twice but kept the ball alive and then fed Toomua who, from a standing start five yards out, flattened Billy Twelvetrees and rode a tackle from Chris Robshaw to crash over. The lead was extended to seven points when Cooper landed the conversion and a penalty and Australia spent half-time grouped together on the pitch.

England began the third quarter with a succession of errors - a simple backs move breaking down, Tomkins feebly slipping off a tackle on Tevita Kuridrani and Marland Yarde penalised for a late block on Adam Ashley-Cooper. The last offence gave Cooper a chance but he missed the kick, and this time it was England who responded with intent as Yarde was prevented from crossing by a double try-saving tackle from Ashley-Cooper and Kuridrani. Play stopped as Scott Fardy was carried off on a stretcher with a neck brace fitted following a heavy collision and when it restarted England crossed.

Genia's clearance was charged down by Mako Vunipola into the path of Robshaw who picked up the ball and fell over the line with Farrell converting. The Saracens fly-half then converted his own try after he had slipped between two Wallabies forwards, although there was a hint of obstruction from Dylan Hartley on Stephen Moore.

The arrival of scrum-half Ben Youngs from the bench had provided an injection of pace and with Cooper missing two penalties, the momentum was with England once again. Showing character and nous, England closed out the match to retain third place in the world rankings.

England celebrate as Robshaw touches down to level the scores © Getty Images
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