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Reaction To English History Makers.

Reaction To English History Makers.

On Saturday last in Melbourne’s Telstra Dome history was made when the Martin Johnson led England won their first ever Test against the Wallabies on Aussie soil.

On Saturday last in Melbourne’s Telstra Dome history was made when the Martin Johnson led England won their first ever Test against the Wallabies on Aussie soil. Reaction to the victory amongst English media was understandably euphoric and there was praise also from those perhaps less inclined to praise The English.

The England side that defeated the willing but out-powered Wallabies 25-14 on Saturday night is a team for the history books – a side for English supporters to treasure.

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They were the first England team to defeat Australia in Australia. They have defeated all of the likely contenders for the 2003 World Cup during the past six months. They are unbeaten in their past 13 Tests, a record for any England side.

And the victory inside the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, before a yellow-scarfed home crowd that booed enthusiastically whenever England kicked for goal, was achieved with a style that was open and creative. The battering-ram England pack and a set of surprisingly incisive backs belied coach Clive Woodward’s pre-Test rant that he didn’t care how unattractively England played, as long as they won.

The win was established in the opening minutes of the Test when England scored after 14 brutal phases of play. In the end, the Wallabies had no defenders left to stop the run to the tryline. This try was the first of three to the one scored by Australia. The Wallabies won the penalty count 16-7. But this was the only part of the Test in which the hosts had the advantage.

England invented rugby and played their first Test in 1870. It is unlikely that the country has fielded a finer pack of forwards. This pack, in a performance in which it dominated and then crushed the Wallabies pack, exemplified the age-old rugby truth that great forward packs win important matches.

It is possible to mark the moment when the England pack stamped its authority over the Wallabies. In the 35th minute of the first half, England won a lineout near halfway. A tight fist of England forwards mauled forward, and forward, and ever further forward.

The Wallabies forwards regrouped about five times trying to hold up the drive. Towards the end of it, a number of Wallabies forwards were straggling behind the England pack as it moved relentlessly on.

Was there ever a driving maul in the modern era that has gone on so far? Was the technical skill and physical power of one pack over another ever so cruelly exposed?

The Wallabies bravely and with some skill ran attack after attack towards the end of the Test. Wendell Sailor scored his third try this season. Mat Rogers broke away on a spectacular run only to be driven into touch just short of the try line. Then he was flattened in a ferocious tackle by Josh Lewsey.

The prone figure of Rogers on the ground with the triumphant Lewsey standing over him represented a metaphor for the outcome of the Test and most of its action.

A World Cup rating for the performance of the Wallabies: four out of 10.
(Spiro Zavos).

Australia paid the highest price for the sacking of Elton Flatley, with his absence being a crucial factor in our loss to England, writes coach John Connolly.

The decision by Eddie Jones to sack Flatley for missing training had a direct impact on the way the Wallabies played. Most notably it was his replacement, Nathan Grey, who missed a crucial tackle on Ben Cohen, which resulted in the match-clinching try for England.

Grey tried as hard as he could and did a reasonable job but there were other times when with a better goalkicker like Flatley we would have taken shots for goal which can’t be ignored in a Test match. Discipline is important in a side but at what cost? The only good thing to come out of last night’s loss for Australia is that it has given the Wallabies a giant reality check.

We now we know we have a heap of work to do before the World Cup, particularly in the technical aspects of our game. At least this loss happened before the World Cup and not during it.

Australia have dug a hole for themselves in the forwards with very few options for Eddie Jones to make changes which will benefit the side. Unfortunately our pack was looking somewhat deficient against a big, tough, well-drilled unit like the English.

The first half of football from England was as good a display of rugby as I’ve ever seen in my life. They were superb in every single aspect of the game.

I could not believe how sensational their forward pack was with Martin Johnson leading the way and their front row of Trevor Woodman, Steve Thompson and Phil Vickery totally dominating the Australian tight five.

England dominated the lineout, the breakdown, the scrums and every other forward exchange.

And in today’s Sydney Morning Herald rugby writer, Greg Growden had this to say.

Morgan Turinui is expected to be moved from outside- to inside-centre, and several Wallabies forwards are under threat of being sacked for the first Tri Nations match against South Africa in Cape Town on July 12.

Australia’s aspirations to be the first team to successfully defend a World Cup title are looking extremely shaky after England conclusively overhauled them in virtually every department at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne on Saturday night.

England have at last convinced all the southern hemisphere doubters they are a team of quality, with the most effective and dominant of forward packs, matched by exhilaration out wide. They are definitely not a one-man team based around the kicking of Jonny Wilkinson, even though as a pivot he failed to make full use of the huge amount of possession England commanded during the Test. Wallabies coach Eddie Jones thinks England had about 57 per cent possession, yet it felt a lot more.

One can only wonder what Mark Ella or Stephen Larkham would have done with the many good attacking opportunities and wide overlaps that Wilkinson failed to take advantage of. But that is only a minor blemish on an otherwise accomplished England performance.

England won this Test. Australia did not lose it, because most of the night the Wallabies showed tremendous courage and endeavour, with several excellent performers including Joe Roff, Toutai Kefu, Wendell Sailor, Phil Waugh and Nathan Grey, who held up well playing at five-eighth. However, Australia’s overall execution was poor, which is bound to see the Wallabies starting XV undergo some intricate tinkering before the Tri Nations.