Player Ratings: The Farrell show
OPINION: England levelled their series in Australia with a much-improved display that delivered a 25-17 win in Brisbane.
Eddie Jones’ team led 19-7 at the break thanks to 14 points from the boot of Owen Farrell plus a Billy Vunipola try from a well-worked close-range lineout to which Australia responded with Noah Lolesio’s conversion of Taniela Tupou’s late score.
Farrell added another three points for England early in the second half, but when Lolesio upgraded Samu Kerevi’s 48th-minute score and then added a penalty just ahead of the hour mark, the Wallabies were back in the contest.
However, Farrell’s sixth penalty then extended the visitors’ advantage to eight points with 13 minutes remaining and after surviving this third-quarter wobble the visitors eventually closed the game out for a win in relative comfort.
Paul Smith rates the England players
15. Freddie Steward – 6
A rock at the back Steward always seems to be there when the ball goes in the air but he didn’t really register as an attacking force during a first half when England had plenty of possession and territory.
14. Jack Nowell – 8
Typically hard working, Nowell was able to put in a couple of superbly-timed hits underneath Jack van Portfliet’s brilliantly judged box kicks. Led the defensive charge for England in the opening 40 minutes with eight tackles then sparked a fine move which lifted the second-half pressure on his team when he claimed Farrell’s kick-pass and took play deep inside the home 22.
13. Guy Porter – 6
The Premiership-winning Leicester debutant made a confident start with a sharp break but otherwise saw little of the ball.
12. Owen Farrell – 8
As the only England starting back aged over 25, Jones’ former captain’s ability to play alongside Marcus Smith came under plenty of scrutiny in the wake of England’s first test defeat. Seven days on his goal-kicking was on point, he made a crucial defensive intervention when Marika Koroibete threatened to go the length of the field and opened Australia up with a brilliant kick-pass to Nowell.
11. Tommy Freeman – 6
Making his England debut, the Northampton winger showed some slick early hands to release Jack Nowell. Replaced by last week’s star man Henry Arundell with ten minutes remaining.
10. Marcus Smith – 5.5
Started badly by kicking possession away in the home 22 following Genge’s break and – perhaps playing to orders – the Harlequins no.10 put boot to ball on plenty of occasions when England had possession inside the home half. With his team already under the pump Smith was sin-binned at the worst possible moment for a brainless deliberate knock-down.
9. Jack van Portfliet – 9
The Leicester no.9’s first England start immediately showcased his slick service from the base while his box kicks were well-judged and he also showed an eye for a gap reminiscent of clubmate Ben Youngs. A very fine display.
1. Ellis Genge – 7
Started brilliantly by bouncing off a tackler and charging 30 metres into the home 22 but then showed his frustrating side by conceding a needless penalty for roughing up Nic White. Replaced by Mako Vunipola with 25 minutes remaining.
2. Jamie George – 7
Played a big part in his country’s fastest start for some time and was very prominent with ball in hand during his 55-minute stint.
3. Will Stuart – 6
Made good ground with his first carry before being – perhaps unjustly – penalised in the game’s third scrum in the run-up to Australia’s opening try. There was no doubt however when Stuart was then pinged again on England’s feed prior to the home side’s second score.
4. Maro Itoje – 7
The most prominent figure in England’s lineout and an influential figure in the loose prior to departing shortly before half-time following a head knock.
5. Jonny Hill – 7
Worked hard in the loose, carrying hard at close quarters and leading the way in England’s defensive effort with 12 tackles.
6. Courtney Lawes – 6
A quiet outing for England’s skipper who was unable to provide his usual dominant defensive input.
7. Sam Underhill – 6
Reacted quickest to release George after a Smith chip was deflected into his path. Underhill’s big asset is his powerful and consistent tackling which was again very much to the fore prior to his departure in the 57th minute.
8. Billy Vunipola – 8
Had already carried strongly several times by the time he was the beneficiary of a clever lineout move which created England’s opening try in the fifth minute. Extremely prominent with ball in hand, the Saracens no.8 looks almost back to his best although five missed tackles will trouble him.
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie – 7
Arrived in the 55th minute and proceeded to put in an eye-catching shift.
17. Mako Vunipola – 7
Replaced Genge in the 55th minute and did plenty to impress in the fourth quarter.
18. Joe Heyes – 6
Arrived on the visitors’ tight head after an hour.
19. Ollie Chessum – 7
Arrived in the 39th minute and proceeded to make ten tackles.
20. Lewis Ludlam – 7
Replaced Underhill when England were under the cosh with 23 minutes remaining and put in a good stint in the back row.
21. Danny Care – n/a
Arrived in the 70th minute and immediately conceded a penalty.
22. Will Joseph – n/a
Jonathan’s brother won his first cap in the dying seconds.
23. Henry Arundell – n/a
Played the last ten minutes on England’s left wing.