Ge­orge shows stamina to last pace and keep Hart­ley on side­lines

Sara­cens hooker passes his au­di­tion to sig­nal pos­si­ble chang­ing of the guard for Eng­land, says Kate Rowan

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union -

One of the most telling mo­ments in Eng­land’s strong se­cond half, in which they put Aus­tralia to the sword, did not even hap­pen on the pitch. Just af­ter 50 min­utes an image of Dy­lan Hart­ley ped­alling fu­ri­ously on an ex­er­cise bike on the side­lines was beamed up to the Twick­en­ham big screen.

At that point, it was very telling that Jamie Ge­orge was not go­ing to make way early in the half.

The fact that Ge­orge’s first Eng­land start in a ma­jor Test ahead of Hart­ley un­der the Ed­die Jones regime lasted un­til af­ter the 70-minute mark could, to those out­side the Eng­land camp, sig­nal a chang­ing of the guard. Tight­head prop and man of the match Kyle Sinck­ler very much stole the head­lines in terms of the front-row per­for­mance, with his lung-bust­ing runs to gain Eng­land ter­ri­tory, but in what could be re­garded as Ge­orge’s pro­longed au­di­tion, the hooker put in a solid per­for­mance. There was cer­tainly a lot more sub­tlety to it than Sinck­ler’s ef­forts, but the most im­por­tant thing for Ge­orge was that Eng­land dom­i­nated the set-piece.

When Ge­orge came on as a re­place­ment for Hart­ley against New Zealand two weeks ago, the Sara­cens man’s throw­ing was wonky at the best of times and played a part in the line-out woes that would even­tu­ally con­trib­ute to Eng­land’s down­fall.

Against the Wal­la­bies, Ge­orge looked much more con­fi­dent throw­ing in, while his scrum­mag­ing, along with Ben Moon and Sinck­ler, was solid. They looked like a front row that had been start­ing to­gether all au­tumn, rather than one where play­ers had been mov­ing in and out.

In many ways, since his dom­i­nant form dur­ing the British and Ir­ish Lions’ drawn se­ries against the All Blacks, Ge­orge has been a vic­tim of his own suc­cess. Hav­ing played through the June tour to South Africa, while Hart­ley was out with con­cus­sion, af­ter a gru­elling club sea­son with Sara­cens on the back of the Lions tour, the player had looked in re­cent months to have lost the dy­namism in the loose and per­haps a lit­tle con­fi­dence, as was ap­par­ent in the meet­ing with the All Blacks. It would seem that slight lapse in form had been down to fa­tigue.

But against a twitchy and at times – par­tic­u­larly in the se­cond half – dis­tracted-look­ing Wal­la­bies, Ge­orge proved he had the gas in his tank to stay the pace and com­plete his role at set-piece time with aplomb. It was the sort of solid un­seen work that can fade com­pared with at­ten­tion-grab­bing per­for­mances such as Sinck­ler’s, or those from wing Joe Cokanasiga and full-back El­liot Daly.

One area where Ge­orge seemed to be strong out­side of the set-piece was in de­fence. He looked to en­joy tak­ing on Aus­tralian backs such as Dane Haylett-Petty as part of John Mitchell’s new-look dou­ble-hit de­fen­sive sys­tem. He also ac­quit­ted him­self well in the first half af­ter Ben Te’o was in­ter­cepted by Will Ge­nia and put in a strong de­fen­sive ef­fort rush­ing to stop the Aus­tralian at­tack­ers.

Solid per­for­mance: Jamie Ge­orge was a dom­i­nant fig­ure at the Eng­land set-piece

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