Power men put Ed­die’s en­gine into over­drive

The Rugby Paper - - Autumn Internationals - From NICK CAIN at Twick­en­ham

JOE Cokanasiga, the new­est kid on the Eng­land block, pro­duced the power play that Ed­die Jones has been dream­ing of by floor­ing Aus­tralia with 25 min­utes re­main­ing of this match.

In the process the 21year-old Fi­jian-born Bath wing not only brought a feel­good fac­tor flood­ing back, he also helped to de­liver the Au­tumn up­lift that Eng­land wanted be­fore their visit to Dublin in the open­ing round of the Six Na­tions.

Eng­land fin­ished the se­ries on a high note, with three wins from four, af­ter over­pow­er­ing Aus­tralia in the sec­ond-half, even­tu­ally out-scor­ing them four tries to two.

The new phys­i­cal­ity in the Red Rose back­line was en­cap­su­lated when Cokanasiga, who scored a de­but try against Ja­pan last week­end, trumped it when he turned a rel­a­tively un­threat­en­ing back­line move into a golden op­por­tu­nity – which he seized with both hands.

With Aus­tralia trail­ing by seven points at 20-13 – fol­low­ing a scorcher of a try from El­liot Daly just af­ter the break when he burst clear from an Owen Far­rell off­load – the 6ft 4in, 17st 9lb (112kg) wing took over.

It be­gan when Cokanasiga col­lected a pass from Maro Itoje out on the touch­line on the Aus­tralian 22, where Cokanasiga was con­fronted by his op­po­site num­ber, Dane Haylett-Petty. The Wal­laby is an­other big unit (6ft 3in, al­most 16st), but when the dust set­tled af­ter the col­li­sion it was clear he did not know what hit him.

As Haylett-Petty went into the head-on tackle at waist height the power in Cokanasiga’s hips bounced him back­wards as if he had been hit by a jug­ger­naut. With his op­po­nent on the deck the way was open, and he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity by rac­ing away from the cover to score the try that knocked an al­ready splin­tered Aus­tralian door off its hinges.

It was a blow from which the Wal­la­bies, who slumped to their ninth de­feat in 13 Tests this year, were un­able to re­cover be­cause it left them trail­ing 27-13 go­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter af­ter Owen Far­rell con­verted. Nor was the pun­ish­ment be­ing dished out by Cock­anasiga over, be­cause he came within an ace of scor­ing an even more spec­tac­u­lar try on the hour.

It started when he went up to take an Aus­tralian high kick with ease on half­way be­fore leav­ing Jack Dempsey snatch­ing at thin air and Matt Toomua wrong-footed as he eased through the gears. As Cock­anasiga neared the line he smashed through Haylet­tPetty’s gritty chal­lenge be­fore Michael Hooper’s cover tackle stopped him inches short.

When Brad Shields was held up over the line sec­onds later and Aus­tralia col­lapsed at the five me­tre scrum, Far­rell kicked a straight­for­ward penalty to make it 30-13.

The Wal­la­bies nearly went fur­ther be­hind when a try-sav­ing tackle by El­liot Daly on Sefa Naivalu re­sulted in a hack and chase touched down by Jonny May, only for the score to be ruled out by the TMO – cor­rectly – be­cause Henry Slade’s clear­ing kick had clipped the line.

How­ever, with Manu Tuilagi com­ing on for his first taste of Test ac­tion since 2014 – bar a 17 minute cameo in 2016 – there was not much chance of a respite, as he demon­strated by smash­ing through Samu Kerevi with his sec­ond touch.

As the late pres­sure cranked up Aus­tralia were forced to con­cede again af­ter an in­ter­cept at a Wal­laby line-out saw Court­ney Lawes set Richard Wig­glesworth rac­ing into the 22, and from the next ruck a quick pass by Ge­orge Ford saw Far­rell stroll over un­op­posed.

Trail­ing 37-13 the Wal­la­bies could have been for­given for pray­ing for the fi­nal whis­tle, but in­stead they showed enough spirit, and stamina, to make the most of some “job-done’ slack English de­fence for Is­rael Fo­lau to score from Bernard Fo­ley’s an­gled grub­ber.

It was not any con­so­la­tion, as was made clear af­ter­wards by the bit­ter com­plaints over the of­fi­ci­at­ing of the match by Michael Cheika. The Wal­laby coach was es­pe­cially ag­grieved by the fail­ure of ref­eree Jaco Peyper to award a penalty try af­ter a bru­tal col­li­sion be­tween Far­rell and Izack Rodda when the Aus­tralian lock ap­peared cer­tain to score on the stroke of half-time.

A break by Kerevi saw Rodda in a full cry tilt for the line when he and Far­rell met in a shoul­der to shoul­der smash. It was gen­uine split-sec­ond con­tact and both play­ers were stopped in their tracks. How­ever, given that Far­rell has pre­vi­ous form when it comes to not us­ing his arms to grip when tack­ling, it would have been no sur­prise if Peyper had pe­nalised him, with a penalty try the likely out­come be­cause but for the col­li­sion Rodda would have scored.

This would have given a Wal­laby out­fit which re­cov­ered from a hor­ror start a four point lead rather than the 13-13 score­line they had to make do with at half-time af­ter Matt Toomua kicked the lev­el­ling penalty for the off­side call they re­ceived in­stead.

Whether it would have de­railed an Eng­land side that even­tu­ally had too much fire­power for the vis­i­tors is an­other mat­ter. Cheika has se­ri­ous prob­lems to con­tend with in his pack, with Ben Moon and Kyle Sinck­ler knock­ing them into re­verse gear reg­u­larly at the scrum. Sinck­ler also made his pres­ence felt with some barn­storm­ing car­ries in the loose, and he, Mark Wil­son, Sam Un­der­hill, Itoje and Shields were far more ur­gent than any for­ward in a gold jer­sey bar Michael Hooper.

The idea that Eng­land might cut loose against the be­lea­guered Wal­la­bies was re­in­forced when they went on the of­fen­sive from the kick-off, win­ning a five me­tre scrum af­ter Youngs charged down a Haylet­tPetty clear­ance, forc­ing Kerevi to ground the ball.

When Eng­land shunted the Aus­tralian scrum back, Wil­son picked up at No.8 long enough to draw in three tack­lers be­fore pass­ing to Ben Youngs. The scrum-half had time to pick-out May on the touch-

line and his pass put the wing out­side Haylett-Petty to score in the cor­ner.

Far­rell’s touch­line con­ver­sion made it a dream start, but no sooner had the home side made head­way than they made life dif­fi­cult for them­selves – a har­bin­ger of what was to come for the rest of the half.

Al­most im­me­di­ately Eng­land con­ceded a penalty which Toomua kicked to make it 7-3, and although a Far­rell ri­poste soon af­ter­wards made it 10-3, the home out­fit were stut­ter­ing in at­tack. De­spite Shields, Un­der­hill and Itoje win­ning turn-overs they lacked ac­cu­racy and pen­e­tra­tion and were for­tu­nate not to con­cede a try when Haylet­tPetty was de­nied by the TMO for a for­ward pass to Kerevi in the build-up.

Although a fur­ther Far­rell penalty took Eng­land to 13-3 there was no re­prieve when Fo­lau scored a bril­liant try, cut­ting against the grain of the de­fence af­ter tak­ing a pass from Sekope Kepu in full flow.

Fo­lau raced home like the thor­ough­bred he is, and when Toomua con­verted, it was Aus­tralia who were on a roll with five min­utes of the half re­main­ing.

Af­ter Far­rell brought that to a con­tro­ver­sial halt the stage was wide open, and it was Cokanasiga who stole the show with a sec­ond-half power-surge the Wal­la­bies could not live with.

Elec­tric start: Jonny May scores af­ter three min­utes

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Scin­til­lat­ing: El­liot Daly breaks through to score

Dive bomber: Is­rael Fo­lau scores Aus­tralia’s first try

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