England avenged their early World Cup exit at the hands of the Australians to become the only English team to win a series on Australian soil – a point that should be stressed.
In addition to this, to rub salt in the wounds of the Australians, England leap-frogged them in the world rankings to second.
This series win, coupled with the grand slam victory in March, shows how far this team has come under Eddie Jones; however it was not a case of re-inventing the wheel, but improving the basics and inducing intent on the pitch.
No more clearly is this seen than in the defensive effort from Eddie Jones’ men. It was clear what one of the key focuses was for England from the first game: defence. After leaking 28 points (four tries) in the first test, it took a remarkable – and record breaking score – for England to overcome the Australians with 38 of their own points.
In the second Test, the story was very different. Australia managed only one try. This pays testimony to the effort from all the English players. This is even more remarkable when you look at the match statistics. Australia dominated 70% of the possession and made 49 tackles; England made 129 tackles, however missed 31. That is somewhat forgivable when you think of the attacking prowess of Australia, who are one of the best offensive teams in the world.
Jones, somewhat jokingly, said he wanted a group of thugs who were calm under pressure but ruthless in attack and defence. It is fair to say that he may have achieved that in the past two games – even to a certain extent in the Six Nations grand slam. How quickly he has turned this team around from World Cup rejects to series winners is remarkable.
The third and final Test match between these two giants of rugby will be as competitive as the first two. Australian pride may have been hurt, but it’s not completely gone. The Wallabies were not clinical enough to win the game, as they could not convert their immense territorial advantage into points because of numerous handling errors.
If the Australians had cut out those handling errors in the second Test, the result could have been very different. The lineouts were a somewhat more promising area, with Fardy causing some concern to the English. However, scrums continued to be an area of issue.
It is more than justified that England are now ranked second in the world. Indeed, it would be very interesting to see them against the world’s number one team: New Zealand.
However, at the moment they can accomplish a whitewash in Australia if they dig deep and produce another mesmerising performance down south.
Graham Wilson, Pundit Arena