England’s Story of the Series in Australia


Eddie Jones returned to his homeland down under, in search of making history with his England team. Never before had England been victorious in ‘back to back’ Summer tours against Australia, with the fond memories of  2016’s clean sweep over the Wallabies, motivating the senior players who had ‘been there, and done that.’

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Young lion Marcus Smith has surpassed Owen Farrell to the number 10 jersey, with the evergreen Saracen being bumped to inside centre for the tour. Amongst the squad were some unexpected returning faces, as untimely injuries and unforeseen events opened up spaces for selection. Billy Vunipola returned to the England camp, after he missed out on the latest Six Nations, and left many to believe that he had played his last match wearing the red rose.

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Injuries to Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt left vacancies at the back of the scrum, which Vunipola gladly occupied. Harlequins legend Danny Care also returned to an England jersey for the first time since 2018. Ben Youngs decided to be with his family during their difficult time, which opened up the spot for the 35-year-old veteran.

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The scrum half saw this to be more than a nostalgic cameo, as he led the line with his Harlequins half back partner Marcus Smith. Care was also a valued mentor to England’s latest breakthrough talents, such as fellow scrum half Jack Van Poortvleit. Other notable absentee’s included Kyle Sinkler, who continued to recover from a back injury, and the 2022 Premiership Player of the Year Ben Earl. The flanker was once again overlooked, despite the back-row vacancies.

1st Test: Australia 30 – 28 England

Blame jet lag, blame inexperience, blame the hostile Wallabies supporters, but England left it too little, too late in Perth. Australia did not exactly come into this match ‘all guns blazing’. Eight consecutive losses against England mounted the pressure on Head Coach Dave Rennie, which had been made even greater after losing their talisman Quade Cooper to injury.

A last minute call-up to Noah Lolesio proved to be decisive in the victory, as the Brumbies fly half kicked enough daylight to award Australia the win. On a weekend which saw all four Southern Hemisphere sides reap the rewards of the home field advantage, Australia’s victory will long be remembered for ending their losing streak against their old enemy.

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The Wallabies had to fight with 14 men for over an hour, after Jonny Hill provoked a headbutt out of his opposite man Darcey Swain. After the break Lolesio kicked the Wallabies into a 9-6 lead, before the ‘Baby Rhino’ Ellis Genge grounded a stampeding English maul.

Farrell attempted to establish some breathing room from the tee, but consecutive Aussie tries from Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga’a  and Pete Samu secured a 14 point lead, with two minutes remaining. A dramatic end to the game began with England’s latest breakthrough star Henry Arundell scoring a magnificent solo try, from his first ever touch for his country.

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Electric pace, accompanied by a hotwired step saw him power through two Australian defenders, seconds before the 80th minute. Jack Van Poortvleit also made good on his opportunity off the bench, as he followed up Arundell’s try in the 82nd minute. Yet the damage had been done, and the margin on the scoreboard was too great, as Australia won the opening test.


2nd Test: Australia 17 – 25 England

In what was a reversed mirror image of the 1st test in Perth, England took a significant lead early on in the match, and allowed the Australians to mount a second half comeback. England fans were treated to the Billy Vunipola of old, in a point proving performance. This began with the number eight grounding a maul to score after just four minutes.

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Farrell’s consistent kicking established a healthy lead, which then saw England begin to rest on their laurels. 19-0 up after half an hour, and England were cruising, and took their foot off the gas just before half time. Taniela Tupou, one of the best props in the world today, capitalised on this laziness and crashed over from short range.

The fight back was on after half time, as Australia roared back into life. The dangerous partnership of Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete battered the English defenders with hard hitting lines. Kerevi then breezed passed Marcus Smith to narrow the points gap.

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The physicality continued to leave its mark, with Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill both forced to leave the pitch through injury. This did however set the stage for newcomer Ollie Chessum and squad returnee Lewis Ludlam. Chessum took his chance to step up and bolster a depleted forward pack, and proved why Leicester valued him so highly in their Premiership winning campaign.

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A penalty each for Farrell and Lolesio, and the game dissolved into a sparring match for the final quarter. England’s defensive wall held strong against Australia’s wrecking balls, and a one-win-a-piece leveller set up an enticing finale to this tour.


3rd Test: Australia 17 – 21 England

England’s noticeable absentees made for a weakened starting XV, and the Wallabies were ready to bring home the series, in a style akin to many an Ashes test, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. However, England’s young stars Ollie Chessum, Jack Van Poortvleit, Tommy Freeman and Guy Porter all had starring roles in this match, and proved that experience is not everything on the international stage.

England’s new-era talisman Marcus Smith scored the decisive try, as he used his unmatchable pace to run in from 55 metres out, as a nation of rugby fans willed him on from the other side of the world.

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After a nail-biting quarter of an hour stalemate, Owen Farrell kicked the door down with a penalty. The partnership of Nic White and Tom Wright then tore down the right wing, with a neat interplay which caught England off-guard. Wright broke free from the defence, and dived in the corner to cap off a slick try.

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Lolesio took three more points, as the 10-3 lead looked unfavourable for such an inexperienced England team on paper, that had been weakened by two gruelling tests. But in the final play of the first half, Freddie Steward, a relative newcomer, but a veteran in comparison to his teammates, crossed the whitewash from close range. Uncharacteristic Farrell miss-kicks left England with a one-point half time lead; a lead which was amazing to believe they achieved, let alone hold on to for 40 more minutes.

Yet it was to be, and Eddie Jones secured his 10th victory over his home nation as England head coach. Marcus Smith instilled the ‘never say die’ Harlequins attitude that has taken him to Premiership glory, and he was the marquee man for England. His overjoyed celebration in front of a sea of gold shirts, will be the iconified image from this exceptional tour.

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Images Credit: Getty Images

Featured Image Credit: Steven Markham


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