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

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - THE NA­TIONAL

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.”

Getty

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

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