England beat Aussies to set up All Blacks showdown
Coach Jones praises prop after crucial try helps set platform for England’s 40-16 victory and a clash against the All Blacks for a place in the Rugby World Cup final
England coach Eddie Jones toasted “runaway rhino” Kyle Sinckler after the rampaging prop scored his first international try in yesterday’s 40-16 Rugby World Cup quarter-final rout of Australia.
Sinckler proved an unlikely hero for England after the Wallabies had pulled to within a point in Oita, crashing over after a slick pass from captain Owen Farrell to spark a run of 23 unanswered points for Jones’s side, who face defending champions New Zealand in next week’s semi-finals.
“He scrummed really well,” Australian Jones said of his tighthead. “He found himself in an advanced attacking position and got a great pass from Owen and then he was a runaway rhino. I’m really impressed by how hard he is working at improving his game.”
England, world champions in 2003, ran over four tries – all converted by Farrell, who also kicked four penalties for what turned out to be a rampant win. However, it was Australia who led with an early penalty and spent most of the opening 18 minutes on the front foot before two quick-fire Jonny May tries changed the feel of the game.
Sinckler’s marauding display was matched by those of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, who put Australia’s famed, ball-scavenging back-row combo of Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the shade.
“Fair play to the Australians – that was hard graft, especially in the first 20 minutes,” said Sinckler. “They came out of the blocks flying, and some of their forwards ran really, really hard.
England exorcised the ghosts of their 2015 flop when a 33-13 defeat by the Wallabies at Twickenham condemned them to an early exit. Jones caused a stir when he dropped George Ford from the starting XV to enable him to pair centres Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade outside Farrell at flyhalf but, not for the first time, the coach showed that he knew what he was doing. “We were pleased with selection at 10, 12 and 13,” he said.
“They had a lot of defensive work early in the game and we thought that might happen. I also thought George Ford was absolutely spectacular when he came on – he kept Australia running around when we wanted them to.”
On his 50th appearance, May was the man to finish the first of England’s opportunities, one cleverly created with a series of dummy runners and the second coming after brilliant work by Slade, with Sinckler and Anthony Watson also scoring in the second half.
“There is probably no more professional player than him,” Jones said of May, who was withdrawn late on as a precaution after feeling a “twinge” but was not expected to be a doubt for the semi-finals.
Having chalked up their seventh successive win against the Wallabies, England move on to Tokyo to prepare for their first semi-final since 2007, to face the defending and three-time champions New Zealand, and Jones said they will have to improve again.
“We haven’t played at our best yet and the challenge is how do we get better next week?” he said. “The semi-final is probably the toughest game of the tournament – two teams desperate to get to the final, and everyone empties the tank.”
Cheika’s contract expires at the end of the year and he previously indicated he would not be reapplying for his job if they failed to win the World Cup.
But asked about his position following Saturday’s defeat, Cheika said: “If I’m being honest, it’s a cruel world when you are being asked those questions two minutes after being knocked out of a World Cup.
“If you could find some compassion ... perhaps whatever your news outlet is, just think about people’s feelings, just chill. When the time comes, I’ll tell them. They don’t need to know today.”
Prop Kyle Sinckler breaks clear to score England’s third try during the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Australia in Oita yesterday