The Cook Cup will stay in England for another year, as England chalked up their sixth-straight win over Australia, in the 50th meeting of these two age-old rivals.
The hosts triumphed 37-18 at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon, as they continued to exorcise their 2015 Rugby World Cup Australian ghosts.
We have rated all 23 players on an encouraging day for England in south-west London.
- Elliot Daly – 7
An up and down showing from Daly, who still hasn’t quite cemented the 15 jersey. His positioning was good, he contributed in the territory battle and displayed the footwork that makes him a devastating counter-attacker, but his dealing with the high, contested balls still falls short of the reliability that Mike Brown provides at the position. His line outside Farrell for his second half try definitely made his performance a more positive one.
- Joe Cokanasiga – 8
The wing showed great power to ride the tackle of Dane Haylett-Petty and then excellent acceleration to fly passed the remaining Wallaby defenders for his second half try. Impressed with his work rate off the wing and when chasing kicks, and was rarely far from the action, despite his position out in the wide channels. Showcased the potential of what he could become for England with a devastating counter-attack that left five or six Wallabies clawing at thin air.
- Henry Slade – 6
After some defensive criticism against South Africa and New Zealand, Slade turned it on in that area against Australia. He ripped the ball from Wallaby carriers, chased kicks energetically and made a number of solid one-on-one tackles on powerful carriers like Samu Kerevi. He couldn’t quite make it click offensively, however, with a knock-on when he took his eyes off the ball summing up a frustrating attacking outing.
- Ben Te’o – 7
The centre had some solid moments early offensively, running outside to inside lines and keeping play alive with accurate offloads, but he telegraphed an inside pass off the lineout that was intercepted and England were lucky to avoid a try, thanks to an Australian forward pass. Grew into the game as England improved their ball-security and kept hold of the ball, giving the centre more opportunities to carry.
- Jonny May – 6
May took his early try well and was consistently solid under the high and contested balls. He didn’t have too many opportunities to influence the game, with England tending to have more joy down Cokanasiga’s wing or through the midfield. A couple of uncustomary missed tackles on Haylett-Petty will have irked the Leicester wing.
- Owen Farrell – 7
Certainly not a flawless display from Farrell, who was lucky to avoid a yellow card and a penalty try for what looked close to a shoulder charge on Izack Rodda at the end of the first half. That said, he was the architect of England’s best attacking moments, including the run and offload for Daly’s eye-catching try, as well as making six of his seven kicks and crossing for a try of his own, providing his side with 20 valuable points. Invariably picked the right runner with an array of well-judged passes.
- Ben Youngs – 8
Another very strong showing from Youngs this autumn, with the Leicester man showing great awareness of the space around him. He took the ball to the blindside cleverly for May’s early try and repeatedly spotted gaps in the Australian defence. If you were looking for a negative, he perhaps put a little too much on his box-kicks. The Wallabies weren’t getting free runs, but the kicks were often just out of the reach of English chasers.
- Ben Moon – 8
Moon’s stock continues to rise as he delivered another dominant scrummaging performance. He tore into Sekope Kepu at the set-piece and was busy in the loose, frequently being England’s first man to attacking breakdowns, helping to deliver quick ball.
- Jamie George – 7
A flawless lineout display from George, who connected on all eight of his throws and mixed up his lengths, hitting on short, intermediate and long throws alike. He kept himself busy in the loose, too, without breaking off any of his trademark marauding runs. His chances of starting in the Six Nations will have been done no harm at all.
- Kyle Sinckler – 10
One of, if not the best performance Sinckler has put in in an England shirt. He was dominant in the scrum against Scott Sio, carried frequently and powerfully, ran some incisive lines and showed the soft hands to link play and keep phases alive. Clean performance in terms of discipline, too, and forced a knock-on with the power of his tackling.
- Maro Itoje – 7
The lock stepped up again with his work at the breakdown, both offensively and defensively, but misread Israel Folau’s line for Australia’s opening try, stepping forward on the decoy, rather than drifting and filling the space that Folau went on to exploit. The contrasting nature of the performance continued, as he was ripped in contact by Pete Samu, but also managed to get his hands on a couple of Australian lineouts and disrupt their ability to get quick ball. Carried with more confidence and effect as the game went on.
- Courtney Lawes – 7
The Northampton forward was England’s go-to man at the lineout, taking all five throws in his direction cleanly and providing quick service off the top or an efficient set-up at the maul. Blotted his copybook somewhat when Dane Haylett-Petty ripped him in contact on one of his carries. The early rip aside, Lawes carried purposefully.
- Brad Shields – 7
A couple of dominant tackles and a steal at the breakdown had it looking like Shields breakout performance for England, but it was reeled in somewhat by a penalty for not releasing at the contact area and a carry which saw him ripped in contact. He worked hard for the 80 minutes and did provide a solid third lineout option, though.
- Sam Underhill – 8
Like Shields, Underhill made a number of dominant tackles that drove Australian ball-carriers back. When the opportunity to drive Australian carriers up and backwards didn’t prevent itself, he would go low and efficiently wrap up in the tackle. He also popped up with a steal at the breakdown and the only real negative was one tackle when he went high on Kerevi and got brushed off.
- Mark Wilson – 8
A typically industrious performance from Wilson and one that England fans have been getting used to this autumn. He was ultra-reliable fielding kicks deep inside in the English 22 and carried powerfully off of the base of the scrum, on the rare occasions England opted to go down that route.
- Dylan Hartley – 6
The hooker came on for the final 10 minutes and kept everything ticking over nicely at the set-piece.
- Alec Hepburn – 6
Not too much to do once he replaced Moon, with the game sewn up, but had one particularly strong scrum late on.
- Harry Williams – 6
Like Hepburn, the damage was done once Williams came on, but he had a bit of fun against the second-string Wallaby front rowers.
- Charlie Ewels – n/a
Came on too late to have an influence.
- Nathan Hughes – n/a
One strong carry after coming on late.
- Richard Wigglesworth – 6
The veteran scrum-half looked lively after his second half introduction, bringing the same kind of tempo Danny Care usually does in the role.
- George Ford – 6
Came on too late to have a real effect on the game but made the backdoor pass that sent Farrell over for his try.
- Manu Tuilagi – 6
Didn’t have too many opportunities to influence the game but did run a nice decoy line to spring Farrell and allow the fly-half to grab a try.
Watch: Rory Best talks about receiving his recent OBE.
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