London – England coach Stuart Lancaster looked forward to the rest of the November series with confidence after his side launched their end of year campaign with a 20-13 win over Australia at Twickenham.
Saturday's success came nearly a year on from Australia's 20-14 victory at Twickenham and was especially creditable given England were without five injured British and Irish Lions in centres Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, loose forward Tom Croft, lineout specialist Geoff Parling and prop Alex Corbisiero.
England, buoyed by a dominant scrum, came from 13-6 behind to beat 2015 World Cup pool opponents Australia courtesy of second-half tries by captain Chris Robshaw and fly-half Owen Farrell, who kicked their remaining 10 points.
“We had some big players missing, three players making their first start in a Test match at Twickenham, a new guy (Courtney Lawes rather than Parling) running the lineout and Australia had been together since before the Lions series.
“To go out and get the win like we did, it is a great start for us.”
Man of the Match Mike Brown sparked England into life when the full-back launched the counter-attack that led to Harlequins team-mate Robshaw's try with an audacious 'step' and run from his own line.
Replays suggested he'd put a foot in touch and that Australia, who scored a first half try through centre Matt Toomua, should have had a five-metre lineout.
But that was an issue for the officials and Lancaster said: “Mike Brown was outstanding.
“His ability to beat people with his feet and break tackles and the general fight he shows in his game, it's a real important quality we want in the team.”
Farrell was on the verge of having a game to forget after missing three successive first-half penalties but, as did England, bounced back after the interval.
“Credit to Owen's temperament,” said Lancaster. “He will be disappointed with himself, I am sure, for missing those kicks. He has a great self-belief, and when the big kicks came around in the second half and he had a chance to score (a try), he took them.”
This match was watched from the stands by several members of the England side, including captain Martin Johnson and drop-goal hero Jonny Wilkinson, who beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.
“We were very aware of them being in the crowd and we wanted to do them proud. They inspire the players in our team with their achievements,” said Lancaster.
“It will mean a lot to the (current) players when they sit back and think they won with those guys watching.”
Meanwhile England backs coach Andy Farrell, himself a dual code international, praised debutant centre Joel Tomkins, whose union Test bow came on the same day brother Sam played for England's World Cup rugby league team against Ireland.
“You know the spotlight is on you. You have come over from another code and there is a bit more heat on your back,” Farrell said.”
For Australia, their eighth defeat in 11 Tests in 2013 meant hopes of matching the celebrated 1984 Wallaby Grand Slam were dashed at the outset of this tour.
“It's hugely disappointing,” said Australia captain Ben Mowen, whose side didn't score a point after the break.
“Just after half-time was a real opportunity for us to skip ahead and put pressure on England but we missed a few opportunities and they were extremely urgent,” added Mowen after the Wallabies failed to find the form that saw them score 33 points, albeit concede 41 in a defeat by world champions New Zealand in Dunedin last time out.
“When you have that urgency, married up with a few things going your way, they created that momentum and took those two tries, so you've got to give them that respect,” the No 8 said ahead of next week's clash against Italy. – Sapa-AFP