England 32 Australia 15: England maintain dominance over Wallabies

Never mind Marcus Smith. Take a bow Courtney Lawes.

England secured a 32-15 win and eighth consecutive triumph over Australia with a fiercely-fought success at Twickenham this evening.

Much of the pre-match talk had been on dazzling fly-half Smith, the young Harlequins dynamo starting against a tier one nation for the first time.

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The 22-year-old did not disappoint, coming up with some smart handling, not least when setting Freddie Steward free for the only try of the first half.

England's Freddie Steward on his way to a his first try for his country. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

However, it was the unlikely Lawes, the blindside flanker ten years his senior, who produced most of the deft handling that caused unsuspecting Australia many of their worries.

In the first half especially, Lawes picked out some lovely passes and, when he did another at the start of the second period, prop Angus Bell hit late and upended him, becoming the second Wallaby to be yellow carded.

Nevertheless, in a game largely punctuated by Jaco Peyper’s whistle, Farrell’s boot was always going to be pivotal.

Before limping off late with a foot injury he described afterwards as “okay, just swollen”, he kicked four penalties and converted the seventh minute try of Steward, the Leicester Tigers full-back who scored his first Test try on the way to earning man-of-the-match.

England's Marcus Smith takes on Australia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

After Farrell departed, Smith took over to slot the penalty that sealed victory and the Cook Cup.

That said, England did not score their second try until Sam Simmonds picked off an intercept with the final play and set Jamie Blamire charging to the line for the hooker's sixth try in just four Test appearances.

Smith improved and midfield pair dovetailed nicely when given good ball, Farrell more often than not playing at first receiver with his team-mate joining behind, in a routine that smacks of new atack coach Martin Gleeson’s rugby league background.

England led 16-12 at the break following a first half that struggled for rhythm given the sheer amount of penalties awarded.

England's Jamie Blamire scores their second try. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

When play was allowed to flow, the hosts played most of the best rugby after Wallabies fly-half James O’Connor had started proceedings with the first of his five penalties.

England did waste a couple of gilt-edged chances, Henry Slade bombing an overlap after Farrell and Smith had created him some space, the centre passing too early meaning Jonny May was bundled into touch.

When Lawes’ delicate hands put Jamie George surging through, the hooker was only stopped after Kurtley Beale’s tackle was helped by Tom Wright, the Australian winger who got things marginally wrong and made contact to the head with his shoulder.

He was sin-binned for that offence on the half-hour, Farrell’s kick making it 16-9, before George did get over the line after peeling brilliantly from the back of a driving maul.

England captain Owen Farrell limps off against Australia (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

However, just as he was about to touch down, desperate Wallabies scrum-half Nic White swung an arm and dislodged the ball from his grasp.

O’Connor responded with penalties either side of the break to see the visitors trail by just a point but England - despite seeing injured George fail to return for the second period - soon got back in control.

Jonny Hill, who was towering at lock, produced a storming surge after Maro Itoje ruined a line-out and Australia only just managed to hold him up over the goalline before Bell lost his cool to see Farrell make it 19-15.

The captain missed his next attempt but it would not matter in the end.

Alex Dombrandt had a lovely interplay with Manu Tuilagi to break through the Wallabies next but, when turned over, Hunter Paisami turned defence into attack with an electric break up the middle.

He left a trail of defenders in his wake, including Farrell, who needed Smith to finally bring the Australia centre down.

Lawes was penalised for crawling in the 58th minute, gifting Australia a kickable penalty.

Crucially, though, it was reversed by the TMO who spotted Pete Samu’s high contact on the England lock.

It meant the hosts could go on and control the latter stages ahead of their biggest test in a week’s time - world champions South Africa.

England: Steward; Tuilagi, Slade, Farrell (Malins 69), May; Smith, Youngs (Quirke 72); Rodd (Davison 72), George (Blamire 40), Sinckler (Stuart 72), Itoje, Hill (Ewels 74), Lawes (Simmonds 75), Underhill (Dombrandt 48-Underhill 58-Dombrandt 65), Curry.

Australia: Beale; Kellaway, Ikitau, Paisami, Wright (Perese 67); O’Connor (Lolesio 74), White; Bell (Robertson 73), Fainga’a (Latu 65), Slipper (Hoskins 68), Arnold (Skelton 63), Rodda, Leota, Hooper (Samu 55), Valetini.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)