England had promising moments in the first half of the first Test, but failed to register points. Owen Farrell had a disappointing day with the boot and missed some big chances.
The late introduction of new boys Henry Arundel and Jack Van Poortvleet resulted in two tries which silenced the lackluster performance of many of the team’s established players.
Owen Farrell scored against Australia after converting six of his penalties
Eddie Jones oversaw a much-improved England performance in the second Test of the series
Jones decided to give players like Mara Itohe, Billy Vunipolo, Courtney Laws and Jamie George a second bite. Others were not so lucky.
Danny Kerr came off the bench, replaced by Van Poortvliet, Guy Porter replaced Joe Marchant, and Joe Cocanasiga made way for Tommy Freeman on the wing. Jones chose a 6/2 split on the bench. That all changed shortly before kickoff when Jack Willis was taken off with a rib injury and replaced by center Will Joseph. It may have been tactical as England looked very light in the backs on the bench.
Jones gave ineffective senior players another chance and it paid off. Before the first test, I wrote that Billy Vunipola was vital to England’s progress. He did not give England the impetus they needed; if there were other options, he might end up on the bench.
Jones’ team selection for the second Test seemed to include a new focus and determination
In Brisbane he stepped up and looked full of energy. I was impressed with his performance. His handling of the ball created all sorts of problems for the Australians. He looked like the old Billy. Until he left, Mara Itohe also made a significant shift. There were no games on the line this week, just a good game which is what the England fans expect from him.
Ellis Genge was in good spirits and I guess he enjoyed the upcoming battle with Taniela Tupou in the scrimmage. Sam Underhill hit hard. He is a devastating striker and is also very effective on the ball. England have lost nothing by replacing Tom Curry with the man from Bath.
The team selected by Jones seemed to have renewed focus and determination. This was no doubt due to their miserable performance last week. I guess there was a lot of self-reflection in preparation for the second test.
Jones opted to stick with Marcus Smith (#10) and Farrell for their second outing together
Eddie chose to stick with Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell at 10 and 12; this will be their third outing. There have been glimpses that this might work in the past, but so far it has been inconclusive.
They are both playmakers, but they differ in the way they execute. Farrell is very structured and Smith plays what’s in front of him. In the first Test, Smith appeared to play a minor role, with Owen Farrell taking on most of the flying duties. Smith was much more involved in the second Test.
Owen Farrell put in a good performance and ultimately widened the gap between the sides with 20 points. But nothing has changed my opinion that he is not the answer at inside center.
I thought Joe Marchant was unlucky when he was dropped by Eddie Jones after the first Test. He didn’t get the ball, and neither did Guy Porter, his replacement in the second Test.
Smith, 23, was much more involved in the second match against the Wallabies
I have no doubt that the partnership will continue in the third test, but in the long term I don’t think there will be a place for Farrell and Smith in the same 15. Farrell’s best position is half. He is not a natural center. I think it’s very likely that Jones will have Farrell back in the 10 shirt at the World Cup.
England’s overall performance in Brisbane was a big improvement on last week. There has been a shift in tactics and they seem to be using more of a ten man rugby strategy. There wasn’t much in the way of attacking through the hands. England won using solid standards and tactical kicking.
English forwards will be satisfied with scrum and lineout; it was greatly improved. At the moment, with the players available, England lack creativity and physicality in the middle. There were a few hits on Nowell’s side, but he had to go look for work.
Even though Farrell scored 20 points in the game, he’s a flyer and can’t be used at center
Eddie Jones was probably happy to drop the new caps in the center and on the wings because they will mostly be defensive and not used in attack. He knew England were unlikely to pull this Australian team out with ball in hand, but they could get the better of them going forward. This tactic worked well and will probably be used again next week.
After a win, it’s hard to see where changes might be needed. England won but need to do better next week to win the series. Wallaby will throw the kitchen sink at them. Jones is likely to minimize any personnel changes. As previously reported, Smith and Farrell will continue together.
However, 10-man rugby doesn’t suit Smith, so the temptation to move Farrell back to 10 for Eddie Jones should be increasing. England’s forwards have dominated their Aussie opposition, but I’d like Luke Cowan-Dickie to start in place of Jamie George next week.
Cowan-Dickie is a more dynamic ball carrier. George was solid in Brisbane. I just think LCD offers something a little different. I’d also like to see Joe Cocanasiga take another shot down the wing, but he needs to be more active and look for the ball because it’s not coming to him.
Exeter’s Luke Cowan-Dickie (pictured) has earned a reputation as a dynamic ball-carrier
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA PLAYER RATINGS SECOND TEST
1. Genge – 7 – holds up well and strong in a fight.
2. George – 6 – Good numbers, threw well.
3. Stewart – 6 – performed well in the scrum and was an effective holding option
4. Itoje – 7 – Return to his normal form. Full of energy until he had to leave the field for an HIA.
5. Hill – 7 – Industrious and industrious. Get busy this week.
6. Lawes – 8 – A much improved performance from the captain.
7. Underhill – 7 – Never lets a team down. At its destructive best.
8. B Vunipola – 8 – Best international performance from him in a while.
9. Van Poortvliet – 7 – Showed a lot of promise for the future.
10. Smith – 6 – Ten man rugby does not suit his unstructured way of playing.
11. Freeman – 5 – Saw very little of the ball.
12. Farrell – 8 – Good performance, especially with the bot. 20 points.
13. Porter – 5 – Not given many opportunities to show what he can do.
14. Nowell – 6 – Had to go hunting. Hardworking as ever
15. Steward – Solid defense under the high ball. We need to give opportunities in attack.
16. Cowen-Dickie – 7 – Tossed well and carried well.
17. Vunipola – 6 – Solid performance by Mako.
18. Hayes – 5
19. Chessum – 7 – took over from Maro early on and did well.
20. Ludlam – 7 – again played well from the bench. Unlucky not to start.
21. Joseph – 5 – Few opportunities to show what he can do.
22. Care – 6 – Smoothly took over the management of JVP.
23. Arundell – 5 – No fireworks this week. Tim is missing