England secured a 3-0 series whitewash and extended coach Eddie Jones’ unbeaten streak to nine matches with a pulsating victory against Australia in the third Test.
Australia scored five tries to England’s four, but it was Owen Farrell who again proved the difference between the teams, amassing 24 points with near flawless goal-kicking on a bitterly cold night in Sydney. Farrell kicked nine goals from ten attempts to continue England’s rise after they claimed the No.2 ranking from Australia last week.
“That was a brave effort from our team tonight,” Jones said. “We weren’t at our best, we had a number of players sub-par. We’re pleased with the 3-0 result, but we realise we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re inconsistent in our defence, we’ve had two poor games in defence and one very good game and if we want to be the No. 1 team in the world then we need greater consistency in that.”
In a see-sawing contest that had seven lead changes it was prop Dan Cole who opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Australia hit back almost immediately in fortuitous fashion. England’s lock Maro Itoje slapped the ball from Dane Haylett-Petty’s grasp in a tackle, with the loose ball bouncing to Israel Folau who then raced down field and passed inside to Bernard Foley to score.
The hosts took the lead after Foley found Folau on the outside and the winger put Haylett-Petty into the corner for Australia to lead 12-7.
After Farrell and Foley traded penalties, England regained the lead on the half-hour with Anthony Watson’s chipped kick finding full-back Mike Brown. Foley kicked his second penalty to give Australia a slender 18-17 lead at the break.
The Wallabies gifted back the lead to England at the start of the second half when Billy Vunipola picked up the ball at the base of the scrum and barged over.
Farrell missed the conversion but added a penalty minutes later to extend the tourists’ lead to 25-18.
Australia levelled when Michael Hooper lunged to place the ball on the line for a try. Foley converted.
Matt Toomua then found Folau and the winger raced away to score. Foley converted before a Farrell penalty reduced the margin to 32-31.
Australia were dealt a serious blow after Nick Phipps’ mistaken pass hit Falou in the legs and gave England possession only metres from the line. Substitute hooker Jamie George dived on the loose ball for England’s fourth try. Farrell kicked the conversion for a 38-32 lead.
He then scored his fifth penalty to give England a nine-point lead at 41-32 with ten minutes remaining, but Foley responded to narrow the gap to 41-35. Farrell kicked a match-clinching penalty in the 78th minute.
Australia had the consolation of their fifth try of the evening after the final siren, with Glasgow Warriors winger Taqele Naiyaravoro going over in the corner to make it 44-40.
AUSTRALIA: Tries: Folau, Foley, Haylett-Petty, Hooper, Naiyaravoro. Cons: Foley 3. Pens: Foley 3.
ENGLAND: Tries: Brown, Cole, George, B Vunipola. Cons: Farrell 3. Pens: Farrell 6.
AUSTRALIA: Folau; Haylett-Petty, Kuridrani, Toomua, Horne; Foley, Phipps; Slipper, Moore, Kepu, Skelton, Simmons, Fardy, Hooper, McMahon. Subs: Polota-Nau, Sio, Holmes, Coleman, Palu, Frisby, Lealiifano, Naiyaravoro.
ENGLAND: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Harrison, B Vunipola. Subs: George, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly.
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (Wales).