England have done it. Eddie Jones’ side have run the gauntlet and completed a clean sweep of 2016 with their 13th consecutive victory.
Jones deserves a huge amount of credit for what he’s achieved in 2016 as England completed a first Grandslam in 13 years, as well as a 4-0 rout of Australia over the summer and winter.
For Australia and Michael Cheika, it’s been a very forgettable year for the Wallabies following 2015’s miraculous run to the Rugby World Cup final.
The Wallabies will now lose star flanker David Pocock for a year after the 28-year-old sets off on a 12 month sabbatical, but the loss was not just limited to Pocock, with more of his Australian teammates appearing in this weekend’s winners and losers.
Sefa Naivalu –Henry Speight had been struggling on the wing for Australia as far back as the Rugby Championship so calls for Naivalu’s inclusion weren’t exactly new. The Melbourne Rebels winger was sensational during his second-half cameo against Ireland last weekend in Dublin and carried that momentum to Twickenham on Saturday with a brilliant individual performance.
Naivalu accumulated 68 metres off five carries in the first–half and gave England winger Marland Yarde a lot of problems in the first 20 minutes. Was dynamite in the first-half but saw his opportunities dwindle in the second-half as the Wallabies stumbled to a second consecutive defeat following last weekend’s loss to Ireland.
Ben Youngs – England’s man of the match and continues to be the bane of Australian Rugby. Controlled the game excellently in the first-half with his accurate box kicking, and directed Eddie Jones’s side around brilliantly in the second-half with precise passing and by sniping around the ruck.
Bought and sold the Wallabies defence off a quick penalty and burned Sekope Kepu to race in for England’s third try. Superb performance.
England’s Try-line defence – England stumbled out of the blocks after entering the game predictably bullish and confident. Australia were all over England in the first 20 minutes and raced out to a 10-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.
But in truth, Australia’s lead could have been much, much bigger had it not of been for some outstanding try line defence from England.
Centre Tevita Kuridrani was held up by Jonathan Joseph, Sekope Kepu was held up by a host of English defenders and Australia came away with just one Naivalu try and three blown opportunities from a rampant opening 20 minutes.
England’s tremendous try line defence kept them in the game after an awful start and ultimately laid the platform for a historic rally and year defining win.
Marland Yarde – Part of the stable of wingers available at Jones disposal but had one of his best games in an England jersey on Saturday. May have only bagged one try, but his work-rate and determination was phenomenal.
Pressured Dane Haylett-Petty into conceding a five metre scrum, beat Israel Folau in a footrace to score from a Jonathan Joseph grubber, and scrambled well when England were short of numbers on the outside. Will face big competition from Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni when the Six Nations rolls around next year, but for the moment, he was one of England’s best on Saturday.
Jaco Peyper – Wasn’t quite as bad as he was in Dublin a fortnight ago but hardly redeemed himself in this one. Missed an easy knock on, a late hit on Mike Brown that he eventually realised after four replays and a chorus of boos, and then when he did cop onto it, he gave Haylett-Petty a yellow when a penalty would have surely sufficed.
Also failed to penalise Mako Vunipola for not rolling away on the ruck preceding Jonathan Joseph’s try, and waved play on for one of the most blatant forward passes over the course of the year from Ben Youngs to Owen Farrell.
Had a lot of tough calls to make in Dublin but had a really forgettable afternoon in London on Saturday.
Australia – Is there a harder team in World Rugby to gauge at the moment than Australia? Scintillating and superb in patches, ill-disciplined and wildly reckless for the most part, but ultimately inconsistency is almost guaranteed.
Did not enter the Irish 22 until the 39th minute last weekend and addressed their poor start at Twickenham with a roaring opening 20 minutes.
The Wallabies were all over England in the first quarter but their afternoon seemingly fell apart when George Ford broke their defensive line before pinning the ball inside the Australian five metre line.
Started strong and crumbled late against England. Asleep at the wheel in the first-half against Ireland and roar back in the second-half to ultimately fall short in Dublin.
Seemingly doesn’t matter how they start, when this side are put up against it, they seem to consistently burst at the seams with the game on the line. Hugely disappointing season for Michael Cheika and the Wallabies.
Nick Phipps – Has improved massively since making his debut in 2011 but he’s just not an international scrum-half. 51 Tests would beg to differ but he’s still making routine errors that are costing his team over and over again.
Cost the Wallabies at least 14 points by forcing a completely unnecessary pass to Sekope Kepu when he really should have just taken the ball to ground.
Reportedly still searching Marland Yarde for Ben Youngs’ dummy pass. No progress yet, but will keep you updated if he finds anything.
He was one of the Wallabies better players on the day but was given an awful send off by his team. Worked tirelessly in defence making a team high 11 tackles but was penalised twice at the breakdown and threw the coffin nailing intercept for Jonathan Joseph’s brace. Will take a one year sabbatical from Australian Rugby but will want to come back better than ever in 2018.
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