Fin­ish­ing with a flour­ish

Far­rell leads Eng­land to em­phatic win but Wal­la­bies fu­ri­ous over an­other no-arms tackle Cheika an­gered by Far­rell’s ‘body-check’ on Rodda Jones tips Cokanasiga for great things with Eng­land

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Mick Cleary RUGBY UNION COR­RE­SPON­DENT at Twick­en­ham

Aus­tralia head coach Michael Cheika last night blasted the pro­to­cols used by of­fi­cials af­ter Owen Far­rell es­caped sanc­tion for a body-check tackle on Izack Rodda just be­fore half-time as Eng­land rounded off their au­tumn se­ries with a 37-18 win at Twick­en­ham.

Many com­men­ta­tors felt Far­rell was for­tu­nate not to be shown the yel­low card and a penalty try awarded, a score that would have sent the Wal­la­bies into the in­ter­val with a four­point ad­van­tage.

Referee Jaco Peyper took no ac­tion and did not re­fer the mat­ter to the Tele­vi­sion Match Of­fi­cial. “We had three dis­al­lowed tries and not one re­fer­ral,” said Cheika, who has presided over the worst Wallaby show­ing in a cal­en­dar year for decades.

“Maybe we’ve got to move Aus­tralia up to the north­ern hemi­sphere. We went to the referee meet­ing af­ter the [Eng­land v] South Africa game and they told us that Owen Far­rell’s tackle [on An­dre Ester­huizen] should have cat­e­gor­i­cally been a penalty. So if that’s a penalty, this one to­day was three penal­ties. It’s lu­di­crous.”

Aus­tralia cap­tain Michael Hooper was also taken aback by Peyper’s re­fusal to use the tech­nol­ogy. “I was sur­prised it was turned around against us,” said Hop­per of Peyper’s ex­pla­na­tion that it had been shoul­der-on­shoul­der in the mo­ment of con­tact.

It was Eng­land’s sixth win in a row over the Wal­la­bies, a record. Ed­die Jones hailed the char­ac­ter of his side as they claimed their third win of the No­vem­ber se­ries.

There was praise for 21-year-old Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga, who only made his de­but against Ja­pan and scored for the se­cond week run­ning.

“Joe is just start­ing,” said Jones. “He’s still got his train­ing pants on. Wait un­til he gets proper pants. He’ll be able to play a bit. He’ll def­i­nitely get them. He’s go­ing shop­ping now.”

Jones added: “Our per­for­mance was based on the tra­di­tions of Eng­lish rugby: strong scrum, our line-out ball started to get go­ing in the se­cond half, a good de­fence. It’s not about play­ing against Aus­tralia. It’s about us.

“I love coach­ing Eng­land and love Eng­lish play­ers. It wouldn’t mat­ter if we were play­ing Ar­gentina or Afghanistan, all we want to do is play good rugby. I’ve got no in­ter­est in just beat­ing Aus­tralia. It has been a very pos­i­tive au­tumn.”

Eng­land fans found joy on a sod­den Twick­en­ham af­ter­noon as Ed­die Jones’ team headed to­wards the sunny up­lands of a World Cup year with yet an­other vic­tory over Aus­tralia to for­tify their spir­its.

It may not have been wholly au­thor­i­ta­tive but it was sig­nif­i­cant, as Eng­land rounded off their au­tumn ac­count with their third win in four matches, their record sixth in suc­ces­sion over their once fear­some foe. Mind you, this vic­tory was against one of the poor­est Wal­la­bies out­fits in liv­ing mem­ory, a pale imi­ta­tion of those in gold who have struck ter­ror into Eng­lish hearts down the years, shred­ding them here as re­cently as the 2015 World Cup.

How that sport­ing wheel has turned. Aus­tralia were loose and limpid, flar­ing into ac­tion only oc­ca­sion­ally. When the merit of a win of such mag­ni­tude on the score­board is be­ing quib­bled over, a record-equalling mar­gin un­til Is­rael Fo­lau’s last-se­cond try, a team are in a good place. Wales, re­mem­ber, pre­vailed by only three points in Cardiff.

Eng­land can rest easy, de­spite the pass­ing fuss over Owen Far­rell’s tack­ling tech­nique. The fly-half was for­tu­nate to get away with a full-body col­li­sion on lock Izack Rodda on the stroke of half-time, con­tact that pre­vented a cer­tain score.

Given the cur­rent cli­mate, it could have been a yel­low card and a penalty try. In­stead the only penalty given was for off­side.

Eng­land fin­ished strongly and they will take that feel­ing into all that lies ahead, be­gin­ning with a tough as­sign­ment in Dublin on the first week­end in Fe­bru­ary. Ire­land will not be so oblig­ing. That will be a proper con­test, and Eng­land will have to be more pun­ish­ing in their for­ward play and far slicker as well as trick­ier in their at­tack.

Yet it is a de­cent ledger of ac­count for Eng­land, ban­ish­ing the blues of mid-year. Eng­land took time to find their range, be­ing jerky and ad hoc in at­tack, but there was al­ways a sense that if they could find some com­po­sure and put phases to­gether they would have the mea­sure of an un­der­whelm­ing Aus­tralia side. And so it proved, with rookie wing Joe Cokanasiga show­ing that he has the X fac­tor that Jones is look­ing for as he aims for World Cup glory.

The 21-year-old cer­tainly has that, thrilling the crowd with his surg­ing runs and ever-ea­ger eye for a chance. In only his se­cond Test, the Bath wing scored a de­ci­sive try in the 56th minute and al­most nabbed his se­cond four min­utes later. He has power and pace, Lomu-es­que in his way, raw, but with fab­u­lous po­ten­tial. Cokanasiga is a star turn.

There were other no­table per­for­mances, from prop Kyle Sinck­ler and No8 Mark Wil­son, the New­cas­tle man deep­en­ing Eng­land’s re­sources in the back row, a gritty, un­fussy char­ac­ter, dig­ging deep for every yard made on the field, a true Eng­lish yeo­man.

Manu Tuilagi also made a cher­ished re­turn to ac­tion, com­ing on for Henry Slade in the 69th minute.

Jones had wanted to see an ag­gres­sive set-piece, fiery and pro­duc­tive as used to be the Eng­lish wont against the Wal­la­bies. Sinck­ler has grown in stature through­out the se­ries, far more solid in the scrum and a pres­ence in the loose, as he showed with one beau­ti­fully timed run on to an Owen Far­rell pass.

The Har­lequin is Eng­land’s most im­proved player of the past year, no longer oc­ca­sion­ally sus­pect in the tight or a li­a­bil­ity in terms of his tem­per­a­ment. The 25-year-old is fiery in all the right ways, just what you want from a Test front-rower – hard-nosed and rel­ish­ing the fray at every turn. The Eng­lish scrum­mage did a num­ber on the Aussies, lay­ing the foun­da­tion.

The in­ad­e­quacy in Eng­land’s at­tack ap­peared to be put to rights within two min­utes of the start, as Jonny May touched down for his first try of the au­tumn se­ries cour­tesy of a dom­i­nant five-me­tre scrum, Wil­son pick­ing up and feed­ing Ben Youngs, who flipped it on to his Le­ices­ter team-mate.

The Wal­la­bies were on their up­pers, bedrag­gled on the score­board and a mess off the field, with in­dis­cre­tions dis­rupt­ing their prepa­ra­tion for this match.

That sense of un­ease showed in their play, with balls fired wildly into no­man’s-land. But there are classy play­ers in their squad, no one more so than Fo­lau, the full-back il­lus­trat­ing that high-end qual­ity when cut­ting a per­fect an­gle, side-step­ping Far­rell and Youngs on his way over the line in the 36th minute. They stuck at their task even though they were er­ratic and un­pol­ished, but it is a long way back for Aus­tralia. It might have helped their

cause, of course, if they had a mea­sure of luck in the of­fi­cials’ de­ci­sions.

The vis­i­tors might have gone into the in­ter­val with real mo­men­tum if a penalty try had been awarded. Eng­land only just saved their try-line when Rodda clat­tered into Far­rell as he made to dive over. Aus­tralia claimed that Far­rell had shoul­der-charged the se­cond row, but the penalty given was for off­side. Matt Toomua con­verted it to send the teams into the break level at 13-13.

Far­rell’s col­li­sion with Rodda could have been a yel­low card and a penalty try, and a TMO in­ter­ven­tion on Dane Haylett-Petty’s dis­al­lowed try was only called at the last minute when the big screen showed a bla­tant for­ward pass.

It had not been an ac­com­plished month for El­liot Daly at full-back. The Wasp does not rule the skies as Mike Brown does, but Jones be­lieves he of­fers more of a threat in at­tack. At long last, just two min­utes into the se­cond half, Daly sparked into life, tak­ing a pop ball from Far­rell, be­fore glid­ing and weav­ing his way to the try-line, a sump­tu­ous score, Far­rell con­vert­ing.

Then came the Coka show, the wing slip­ping out of a half-baked tackle by Haylett-Perry and on­ward to the try line. Mo­ments later it was only a de­spair­ing claw-back tackle by Michael Hooper that saved the Wal­la­bies.

When Tuilagi made his long-awaited bow the crowd roared their ap­proval at every touch. Far­rell scored the fourth try of the af­ter­noon and the Eng­land clan went home happy de­spite a late, late try by Fo­lau.

Shoul­der­ing the bur­den: Eng­land’s tal­is­man Owen Far­rell goes over late on to seal vic­tory at Twick­en­ham and make it six wins in a row against Aus­tralia

More to come: Joe Cokanasiga scored a try but is just get­ting started, coach Ed­die Jones says

Men who tamed the Wal­la­bies: Jonny May plunges over for his early try (above) and Joe Cokanasiga, who scored Eng­land’s third try, ram­pages through the Aus­tralia cover (right)

Fly­ing ma­chine: Is­rael Fo­lau dives over the Twick­en­ham try line

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