|Australia (7) 7|
|Try: Moore Con: Foley|
|England (10) 23|
|Tries: Hartley, Farrell Cons: Farrell 2 Pens: Farrell 3|
England produced a heroic defensive display to earn their first series win in Australia with victory in the second Test in Melbourne.
England took a 10-0 lead through Dylan Hartley’s try and an Owen Farrell conversion and penalty but Australia hit back via Stephen Moore’s try.
Farrell’s second penalty gave England a six-point lead in the second half.
They then had to survive relentless Australian attacks before Farrell crossed to wrap up victory late on.
England, who won the first Test 39-28, will head to Sydney for the third and final Test with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
England’s white cliffs
This was a victory built on one of the great defensive displays in the history of Test rugby.
After Farrell had kicked his second penalty soon after the restart, Australia took total control, and in the end England secured just 29% of possession and 26% of territory during the game.
For half an hour the Wallabies hammered away relentlessly at the English defence, but the tourists refused to let their line be breached and, with James Haskell and Dylan Hartley leading the way, made 200 tackles – nearly four times as many as Australia – to set up a famous rearguard victory.
We’ll fight them on the beaches…
In the first half it looked as though the poor quality of the pitch at AAMI Park would provide the main talking point.
The ground was churned up at the very first scrum and both sides struggled to keep their footing on the sandy surface – negating the advantage England hoped to earn at first phase.
Eddie Jones’ men also struggled at the line-out, with George Kruis replaced after 55 minutes, but had enough power up front to take what proved to be a vital 10-0 lead in the first half.
England go clear – briefly
England took the lead from a line-out after kicking a penalty to the corner, with an unstoppable driving maul ending with captain Hartley emerging with the ball.
Farrell, who had raced to join the maul, added the conversion and when a mighty England scrum – the ground for once not giving away – earned a penalty, Farrell made it 10-0.
Any thoughts the visitors had of pulling away were quickly dashed, though, as they failed to win the restart and Australia replied with a score that was a mirror image of the visitors’, Wallaby captain Moore driven over from a line-out for a converted try.
Farrell edged England into a six-point lead early in the second half, but that only served to spark a relentless assault by Australia.
Bodies on the line
Australia came in waves, their powerful backs combining with their forwards to hammer away at England, but no matter what they tried they could not break through.
Chris Robshaw came up with a vital turnover a metre from the line to halt one assault and a blur of white-clad bodies flew in to tackle Wallaby attackers every time they approached, forcing the hosts into errors.
England’s discipline was remarkable and on the two occasions they did give away penalties, Australia elected to kick for the corner and go for attacking line-outs, rather than kick for the posts.
It seemed inevitable England would be breached, but entering the closing stages they finally lifted the siege.
Farrell won the race for the ball after Courtney Lawes and Jamie George had led an England charge, and the Saracens man, playing at inside centre, landed the conversion and added a last-gasp penalty to secure a historic win for England.
Man of the match – Dylan Hartley
Try scorer, defensive machine, leader from the front… captain Hartley, the man reborn under the new England regime, turned in huge performance on Saturday.
What they said
England captain Dylan Hartley: “The key thing we took from last week was defence – Australia are one of the best in the world with the ball in hand. It was important we got some good shots in – we took the onus on ourselves to defend better.”
England boss Eddie Jones: “We had to defend and play off scraps. That’s how we executed the game. But we’re not going to be satisfied unless we win 3-0. I thought we’d get a bit more out of the set-piece, but with the scrum collapsing all the time it was difficult to get an advantage.”
Australia: Folau; Haylett-Petty, Kuridrani, Kerevi, Horne; Foley, Phipps; Slipper, Moore, Kepu, Arnold, Carter, Fardy, Hooper, McMahon.
Replacements: Polota-Nau, Smith, Holmes, Mumm, McCalman, Frisby, Lealiifano, Morahan.
England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)