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Fighting Wallabies bounce back

England 14 Australia 20

Toby Flood can only watch as Nick Cummins goes over to score his first try for the Wallabies. Click for more photos

Wallabies ease the pressure on Deans

Australia bounced back from last weekend's humiliating 33-6 loss to France with a brave win at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images

The rollercoaster ride that is Australian rugby in 2012 continued overnight as the Wallabies resurrected their spring tour with a courageous six-point win over England at Twickenham.

Three second-half penalty goals kicked by fullback Berrick Barnes gave the Wallabies a six-point buffer against a late attacking surge from England, while a try from winger Nick Cummins allowed the Wallabies to keep pace with a spirited home side who came out fighting in the first half.

Barnes scored the only points of the second period, as well as a drop goal and penalty in the first, to give the Wallabies a reputation-saving win in the second Test of their European tour.

The Wallabies pack atoned for their sins against France a week earlier with a dominant performance against the fancied England tight five.

And coach Robbie Deans will be satisfied with another fightback win from his fickle side, which will cool the heat on his career going into the final two Tests against Italy and Wales.

The first half at Twickenham, in front of 81,000 people, was a cagey fight for dominance, with England's Toby Flood kicking the home side to a three-point lead they held for most of the period, before the game boiled over in the last 10 minutes of the period with tries to Australia and England within five minutes of each other.

The Wallabies' drought-breaking five-pointer - their first in three Tests - was Cummins's first ever Test try.

Halfback Nick Phipps made an exacting line break, bolting towards England's 22 before shifting it wide to Cummins, who had hit full speed on the right wing and was able to skip past lock Tom Palmer then dive over in the 35th minute.

Barnes could not manage the conversion from the sideline, containing Australia's lead to 11-9 over the home side.

England hit back four minutes later with their own try in the corner to centre Manu Tuilagi. Flood missed his  attempt at the conversion, and England ran into the sheds three points in ahead of the visitors.

The French walloping gave Australia the kick in the pants they needed to take their opportunities - there was a clear intent to take away points any time the Wallabies found themselves in the England 22. Barnes put first points on the board for the visitors, to equalise at 3-3, with a drop goal in the 13th minute.

England edged ahead again with a penalty kick 10 minutes later, Australia equalised with a second penalty, Flood took it to 9-3 in the 34th before Phipps and Cummins opened up the match in the final five minutes of the half.

The Australian scrum, too, was reincarnated, after its sacrifice at the hands of the French a week earlier as the forwards came out fighting physically and mentally. In the first half the Wallabies forced a turnover on one occasion and a penalty, for England collapsing, on another.

Scrum coach Andrew Blades work with the pack last week made the world of difference, as did the Wallabies' overhauled attitude.

Trailing by three points going into the second half Australia worked its way into the England 22 within a minute of the re-start and stayed there, drawing nine crucial points from English penalties by the 55th minute.

The English had no response despite an injection of energy from replacing backs Danny Care and winger Charlie Sharples with Ben Youngs and Mike Brown.

After the match, Deans hailed the efforts of the Australian team.

"Any result here against England is significant," he said.

"It was much better than last week and obviously it had to be. The biggest part of the adjustment was a mental thing.

"They defended very well. England threw a lot at them, the boys had a lot of faith in the defensive line."

England coach Stuart Lancaster said it was a difficult loss to take, and that his side wasted their opportunities late in the game.

"For us, we are absolutely devastated we lost that game," he said.

"I thought Australia played quite a smart game and put us under some pressure with some chips over the top ... They went hard at the breakdown to stop out quick ball."

It was England's first stumble after their domination of Fiji a week earlier and a good trial ahead of their Tests against South Africa and New Zealand.

For Australia it part-answers, for the umpteenth time, the tough questions about Deans's future and the health of the squad leading into the British and Irish Lions Tour next year.

The Wallabies continue to show they may be developing into the most frustratingly inconsistent performers in world rugby but are nothing if not fighters.

AUSTRALIA 20 (Nick Cummins try Berrick Barnes 4 pens drop goal) bt ENGLAND 14 (Manu Tuilagi try Toby Flood 3 pens) at Twickenham. Referee: Romain Poite. Crowd: 81,361.

102 comments so far

  • a lucky escpe

    Date and time
    November 18, 2012, 9:33AM
    • Not really. Although it wasn't a convincing win, they deserved it and were comfortably close or in front for the entire game. Hardly a Houdini act.

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 3:06PM
    • One try each although each had question marks. It is so hard to score a try that close enough is good enough. The problem is not Deans, the problem is the rules. It is so hard to score a try that teams opt for a goal kick instead of go for a try. A penalty should not allow for a goal kick but rather have a 10 minute sin bin. We might finally see some tries then.

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 9:46PM
  • So, what do all those who were calling for Deans's head before last night's game have to say now?

    Date and time
    November 18, 2012, 9:49AM
    • This has been the Wallabies' pattern under Deans viz. appalling games followed by tremendous pressure then the ability to pull off a win in a do or die situation. So to answer your question, I still believe Deans must go. This team has been consistently inconsistent under him and as a result will never be contenders for RWC while he is coach because in that competition consistent, good rugby is the key. I agree with another post here that said that due to injuries to the backline, Deans actually got the selection of the backline right for the first time this season. Go figure-an inside centre who can actually make gaps and distribute the ball! What a huge difference Tapui made in this game. The backs played like Wallabies of old during the first half, but reverted to playing a defensive game with aimless kicks in the second half. I predict that next week the inconsistency will continue, because now the pressure has lifted because of this win and they will struggle against Italy.

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 10:24AM
    • We say the same as before the game: Deans has to go. It was a good effort by the Wallabies and if not for the idiocy of the England captain we would be looking at a draw at best...

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 10:25AM
    • The same as I said last week. 20 points scored, 1 try. Bye Robbie.

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 10:31AM
    • He still should go.

      Grand Poobah
      Just up the road from you
      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 10:31AM
    • Call for his head again, obviously

      Bob of gulf point
      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 10:48AM
    • England were absolutely hopeless, it was not an amazing wallaby side that won the game

      Date and time
      November 18, 2012, 1:16PM

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