Australia 17-21 England: Marcus Smith try helps secure series win with nervy third Test victory over Wallabies

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 (AP)
(AP)

England secured a second consecutive series win in Australia with a nervy 21-17 victory in the third and final Test.

Eddie Jones’ side won last week in Brisbane to keep the series on the line heading to Sydney, in what was likely the final rugby Test match at the SCG.

It was from a complete performance from England, who fell behind to a Wright try. They took charge of the decider though as tries from Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith gave them an 11-point lead with 25 minutes to go.

Folau Fainga’a got the Wallabies within four points as he bulldozed his way over the line to set up a grandstand finish, but England’s defence proved good enough as they saw out the win on the night and in the series.

A poor 2022 from England up to this point, after another disappointing Six Nations campaign was followed by a heavy defeat against the Barbarians and then an opening defeat to Australia in Perth, now heads into the summer on a brighter note, easing the pressure on Jones ahead of next year’s World Cup.

It was a scrappy start in Sydney from England, nerves perhaps getting the better of them in the opening stages. They conceded a number of soft penalties, though Noah Lolesio let them off the hook with a surprise miss as he kicked for the posts.

Loose passes from Nick Frost and then Taniela Tupou wasted two huge opportunities for Australia, and despite their dominance it was England who took the lead just before the midway stage of the half as the boot of Owen Farrell brought three points.

The Wallabies did briefly find their clinical edge, Wright and Nic White combining brilliantly and the winger went over in the corner for the first try of the match. Lolesio added a penalty soon after and the lead was 10-3.

Farrell cut that deficit, before Eddie Jones decided he had seen enough and brought Danny Care off with barely more than 35 minutes on the clock.

England were second-best by a margin in the first half yet they went into the break with a one-point lead. A lineout as the clock ticked to 40 minutes provided the platform and though Australia initially kept them at bay, Lewis Ludlam and Tommy Freeman both somehow held up short of the lead, the pressure told and Steward touched down out wide.

Freddie Steward put England in front just before half-time (AP)
Freddie Steward put England in front just before half-time (AP)

Farrell extended the lead further early in the second-half and some opportunism from Smith then put England in complete control. A lineout from Australia went astray, Lolesio couldn’t save the situation and Smith pounced on the loose ball. He had the freedom of the Australian half to run into and he had just enough pace to ensure Marika Koroibete did not catch him.

Australia were not done though and left England camped on their own tryline as they went through the phases. Steward kept Pete Samu at bay out wide with a brilliant tackle, but it proved to be only a minor delay for the hosts.

As the penalty advantages racked up, Fainga’a ensured Australia left with more than three points as he bundled his way over. Lolesio added a simple conversion to reduce the deficit to four points at 21-17 with just under 15 minutes to go.

England’s defence was put under pressure late on as the capacity crowd roares their team out, but Jones’ young side saw out the few minutes confidently to ensure the long flight home will be a celebratory one.

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