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England's Bodyline bullies boss Australia

Sat, Jun 11, 2016, Posted by   print

2007 World Cup

1:11 PM GMT

BRISBANE, Australia — After weeks of pre-match hype, the Bodyline Battle of Brisbane delivered. It was bonkers, brilliance from England as they secured their most impressive win since their triumph over the All Blacks in 2012.

Their pack put in a performance for the ages and as the wins pile up, Eddie Jones’ stock and reputation as the miracle-worker continues to rise. This was only England’s fourth ever win over the Wallabies on Australian soil and their first in Brisbane.

Twenty minutes in and it looked ominous for England, the Australia backs were cutting through the defence with ease with a rugby league-esque approach of using blockers to free the light-footed Israel Folau. But then came the snarl of the England pack with Maro Itoje and James Haskell leading their comrades in putting in a performance of sheer bloody-minded brilliance.

The Australian locals have taken an interest in Itoje; though Rob Simmons failed to even attempt to pronounce Itoje’s name earlier in the week, there was an element of awe about England’s new superstar. No-one who watched the game in Brisbane can be in any doubt over his class, his unique ability to control the set piece and then commit acts of wonderful larceny at the breakdown.

His limpet-like ability at the ruck helped England win five turnovers in the first half. Though Australia were enjoying the bulk of the line breaks, England kept on clawing them back and then a dab of luck for Jonathan Joseph’s try — their first, and at a pivotal point in the first half — saw them head into the break in charge. It was a lead they never surrendered.

The much-mooted Bodyline approach saw the England defence run up at a rate of knots leading to Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole putting in a tremendous amount of work. Cole’s dismantling of Scott Sio in the scrum helped lay the foundations for this win — not least when Sio was sin-binned in the second half for repeated scrum infringements — while Chris Robshaw and the superb James Haskell managed to largely nullify the threat of David Pocock.

James Haskell’s barrelling run to set up Marland Yarde’s try typified an electric performance. David Rogers/Getty Images

Haskell set out his stall early on with a huge hit on Pocock in the first minute which was as much a message of brutal physicality as it was a way of establishing England’s modus operandi. He also enjoyed an unlikely canter in open play with his break teeing up the eventual score from Marland Yarde in the second half while he returned to more expected duties with an exceptional try-saving tackle late on. This was a fine performance from the back-row.

And there, sitting in the stands, presiding over the match was the grinning Jones. This was a win that had him stamped all over it. The decision to substitute Luther Burrell after 29 minutes was utterly ruthless but the call saw England establish a two-sided attack with replacement George Ford giving Owen Farrell key support.

It opened up England and seemed to give them a confidence which Australia had already exhibited in their wing-to-wing play. However, it was England who made the chances count with Ford’s pass to Marland Yarde for his try a thing of soft-handed precision.

It was also that intangible dab of self-belief that helped guide them to this win. Even when they fell to the two early tries, English heads did not drop, they did not start to wonder if they were to suffer another embarrassment like October, when they were booted from their own World Cup by Bernard Foley and the Wallabies. Instead, they started to burrow their way into the match, chopped away at the deficit and eventually built the lead with Farrell utterly ruthless from the tee with 24 points.

Australia will lament their uncharacteristically high penalty count as they conceded 15 throughout the match and while they will take heart from Rory Arnold’s debut, they will wonder how Foley — who played so well with ball in hand — missed the number of kicks he did. The absence of that metronomic assurance and their physicality was the difference between this and the World Cup encounter at Twickenham.

The win tees this up to be a truly epic series. Australia’s defeat should not detract from the remarkable performance from Folau who poses such a threat whenever the ball is near him.

There was a feeling that England had to win this match to stand any chance of returning home victorious over the course of three matches and after their shaky start, they took their game to a level we have not seen from them arguably since they won the World Cup here on this very soil.

But they know the job is far from done, the Wallabies are even more dangerous when wounded and will be hunting for blood in Melbourne. The week cannot pass quickly enough.

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/16121894/england-bodyline-bullies-boss-australia-set-classic-series

England's Bodyline bullies boss Australia

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