Australia defeats England in rugby

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Australia defeated England 34 points to three in the first of two rugby union test matches at Sydney's Telstra Stadium. The game was another meeting of the 2003 Rugby World Cup finalists, which saw Jonny Wilkinson land a field goal in extra time to win the Rugby World Cup, although the sides have played each other since then, it was the first return to Telstra. In the lead up to the game, England coach Andy Robinson slammed the condition of the pitch of Telstra Stadium. He visited the stadium the day before the test and said he had fears that scrums could be affected by the condition of the pitch. Scrums played a powerful role in the sides last contest at Twickenham last year when the English almost embarrassed the Wallabies with its impressive scrummaging. Since their last clash, John Connolly has been appointed the head coach of Australia, and the game against England will mark his debut. With a new-look team, the Wallabies entered the game having lost eight of its previous nine matches.

England's Olly Barkley kicked off the match, and just three minutes in, Australia was awarded a penalty. Stirling Mortlock's kick is wide of the posts, and the score remains nil-all. England's scrum prospered in the first twenty minutes, and Australia missed a few oppoortunities to score tries. In the 18th minute, England was penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle. Mortlock was successful with the shot at goal, and Australia moved ahead, 3 points to nil. Just after twenty minutes England looked dangerous as Mike Catt throws a long pass to speedster Tom Varndell near their own goaline, but a stray pass to Tom Voyce led to little. Three minutes later Australia was awarded another penalty, and England found itself a little further behind on the scoreboard when Mortlock was successful with another penalty kick. Shortly after Iain Balshaw goes in for England off a Barkley kick, but being wrapped up by Australian captain George Gregan, the television match official ruled a no try. After an unsuccessful scrum on the Australian scoreline, Barkley misses a penalty kick just left to the posts. English captain Pat Sanderson makes an optimistic break shortly after though a pass is intercepted. Mortlock misses a penalty goal soon after, but on the stroke of half time he kicks another penalty goal to put Australia nine points in front as the game goes sinto half time.

Barkley got England's first points a few minutes into the second half, being successful with a penalty kick, taking the game to nine to three, with Australia still in front. Though shortly after Barkley is penalised for not releasing the ball, and Mortlock kicks a penalty goal to take Australia's lead to 12 points. Australian fullback Chris Latham scores the first try of the match in the 54th minute, with Mortlock's conversion, Australias takes a convincing 19 to 3 lead over the English. Australia furthered its lead to 22 points as Mortlock lands another penalty goal, with under 15 minutes remaining in the game, an English comeback seemed unlikely. Australia sealed the victory when Clyde Rathbone makes a break up field and passes to Mark Gerrard who regathers his own kick to score a try. Mortlock converts Gerrad's try, and Australia lead 29 points to three with around seven minutes remaining in the game. On debut, Rodney Blake charges over to score another try for the Wallabies and although Mortlock misses the conversion, Australia won 34 to three.