|The Qantas Wallabies have fallen to England 7-23 in front of a record crowd of 29,871 at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday night.
After rumbling their way to victory in the series opener in Brisbane, the visitors once again won the physical battle and have the Cook Cup in their keeping after taking an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Once again the Wallabies dominated every statistical category in attack but ultimately couldn’t break what proved to be an impenetrable white wall of English defence.
The English forward pack delivered another outstanding performance, with the back row trio of Chris Robshaw, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola leading the charge.
In a frantic opening 40 minutes, the game was stalled on multiple occasions as the two sides niggled away at each other, including one exchange involving almost every man on the field in the 30th minute which threatened to boil over.
After bursting out of the gates in Brisbane a week ago, the Wallabies looked disjointed from the onset but eventually found their tempo to end up only three points down at the break after England opened the scoring through Captain Dylan Hartley off a maul in the 19th minute.
The turf at the Melbourne venue itself felt the heat of a fiery battle, with the surface breaking up in several spots around the field under the weight of the scrum.
After hammering the England line repeatedly to end the half, the Wallabies answered the English try off a powerful maul of their own, with skipper Stephen Moore collecting the rewards to make it 7-10 heading to the dressing rooms.
The second stanza saw none of the brutality of the first lost, with both teams attacking without fear.
England registered the first points of the second half off a curious penalty and Owen Farrell, who shifted to inside centre for the match, made no mistake with the boot taking the score to 7-13.
>From that moment the Wallabies began to assert their dominance with the ball, mounting wave after wave of attack but were repeatedly thwarted by a committed England defensive line.
Handling errors once again cost the home side at key moments, as they had in Brisbane a week earlier, but ultimately it was an extraordinary English defensive effort which won the night after the Wallabies failed to turn their 74% of possession into points.
A late try to Farrell, who kicked ahead for himself to cross under the posts, cemented the result in the 74th minute.
For the Wallabies, Israel Folau and Michael Hoper backed up their strong performances at Suncorp Stadium and were once again the standouts in the gold jersey.
How it happened:
19 mins: Dylan Hartley try, Owen Farrell con AUS 0-7 ENG
30 mins: Owen Farrell pen AUS 0-10 ENG
34 mins: Stephen Moore try, Bernard Foley con AUS 7-10 ENG
51 mins: Owen Farrell pen AUS 7-13 ENG
74 mins: Owen Farrell try, con AUS 7-20 ENG
79 mins: Owen Farrell pen AUS 7-23 ENG
What they said:
Qantas Wallabies captain, Stephen Moore: “England deserved to win both Tests and we just need to get better.
“They defended really well, we had a lot of ball down their end of the field and couldn’t get it over the line at crucial times, we’ll look at that and improve but they defended really well.
“There are moments in games that matter and we didn’t win enough of them tonight. We didn’t build pressure at crucial times.
“I’m pretty gutted about it at the moment, we’ll own the performance and get better.”
England 23 (Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell tries; Owen Farrell 2 cons; 3 pens) defeated Australia 7 (Stephen Moore try; Bernard Foley cons)