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Wallabies vs. England third Rugby Test match report and reaction

England produced an incredible defensive performance, making 153 tackles to 69, to edge Australia 21-17 in Sydney and win the Ellis-Mobbs Cup 2-1.

Eddie Jones, who was under fire after losing the opening Test in Perth, has gained his second triumph Down Under as England coach following the 2016 clean sweep.

“It was a battle,” said England fullback Freddie Steward. “The Wallabies stepped it up especially in the first 20, they came hard at us, we had to dig in and fight to stay in.

“Monster effort. We probably lacked a bit of physicality to start with but we made up for it. The boys dug in. All those who came off the bench, everyone gave everything.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said he was forever proud of the group.

“But I don’t think we were clinical,” said Hooper. “We created good opportunities tonight, just not good enough to finish them.”

Australia started terribly in Brisbane but were much more focussed and intense from the kick off in front of a full house at what looks like being the final Test at the SCG.

Lock Nick Frost, on starting debut, forced a charge down from the opening play and it set the tone for the Wallabies to get straight on the front foot.

Frost was heavily involved and won praise from former Wallabies lock Justin Harrison on Stan Sport.

“He set the tone and showed presence,” said Harrison. “You don’t have to wait to play 50 Tests to show up for the Wallabies. Nick Frost is showing up tonight. You look across the park at Billy Vunipola, you have to match that intensity.”

Noah Lolesio missed a penalty attempt on four minutes – his first failure from 10 attempts in the series. The Wallabies should have made the most of their territory but their final execution lacked precision – notably when fullback Reece Hodge threw the ball high over Tom Wright into touch with the try line beckoning.

Taniela Tupou, in his second game back from eight weeks injured, also struggled with ball in hand, a loose pass to Frost going too low and later a flicked no look pass that was dropped by James Slipper led to an England penalty.

It had been all Australia through the opening 15 minutes but England on the scoreboard first, Owen Farrell kicking the 17th minute penalty.

But the Wallabies fought back, going 80 metres in the 24th minute with a special try to Wright. Marika Koroibete, coming in off the left wing set Wright away down the right flank and his pass back into Nic White was shot straight back to him and he charged over.

Lolesi nailed the kick from out wide and he added a penalty to push Australia out to a 10-3 lead.

But in the final ten minutes of the half Australia’s discipline faltered and two moments were key.

First Reece Hodge heaved a kick out on the full from outside his 22 and Billy Vunipola forced a penalty soon after to allow Farrell to cut the gap to four points.

The Tupou’s drop pass led to another England penalty. Farrell banged that one against an upright but they got another soon after and went for a lineout instead. After several phases under penalty advantage, and the half time siren having sounded, Wright was beaten near the line by giant England No.15 Freddie Steward and the visitors went to the sheds up 11-10.

“We opened them in the early in the game,” said Wallabies assistant Dan McKellar at halftime. “Just our pure execution at key moments when we got in behind them let us down. There’s certainly a lot of positives in terms of we’re breaking their defensive line down.

“We want to be optimistic but we just can’t be loose. It’s all about being clinical and nailing the opportunities when we have them presented to us and not over playing our hand.”

But just as he feared the Wallabies blew their first big opportunity minutes into the second half. Harry Wilson, playing his first Test in 11 months, illegally joined a ruck after some great Australian pressure around the England 22.

The tourists made the most of the reprieve and won a penalty which Farrell made no mistake with.

With 50 minutes gone Marcus Smith started finding some gaps and then seized on a Lolesio error to score a stunning run away try.

“What a moment for England’s player of the future for the next 10 years, Marcus Smith,” said Tim Horan.

“He has been absolutely brilliant in the English premiership for Harlequins. He set the season alight. He is 50m out. Nic White couldn’t get anything on him. What a turning point in this Test match. Marcus Smith, brilliant.”

Farrell kicked the extras and the Wallabies were drowning.

“We saw just before that mistake from the Wallabies, the defensive unit from the Wallabies getting fractured,” said Morgan Turinui. “Players acting individually. They need to go back, reset and work together because at the moment this England side are finding far too many gaps.”

With Australia 21-10 down Dave Rennie started going to the bench. Pete Samu came on and won an instant penalty and Tate McDermott joined the fray on the hour and was joined by Allan Alaalatoa and Folau Fainga’a, who came up with a try on 65 minutes.

With McDermott upping the energy, the Wallabies gained five penalties inside the England 22, the visitors lucky to escape a yellow, and Fainga’a, who faced calls to be dropped after a poor cameo in Brisbane, drove over from close range.

“it shows the importance of the bench,” said Sonny Billy Williams. “Dave Rennie has gone for a quality bench here with Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa, Bell, McDermott, and it it is starting to pay dividends.”

Australia pushed and probed but England’s defence as immense. With four minutes to go Australia put together 18 phases of attack and England just kept tackling before finally Luke Cowan-Dickie came up with decisive penalty releif.

Rennie took his final roll of the dice on 77 minutes, withdrawing Hodge and sending on ex-NRL star Suli Vunivalu, hoping for a miracle at the death.

With two to play Australia had 75 metres to make up and a minute later lost the ball and England forced a goal line drop out. Australia gained a scrum but it was after the siren and the Ellis-Mobbs Cup is heading to England.

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