A week after being humiliated by France, Australia lifted their game as they always seem to against England to secure a spirited 20-14 win at Twickenham in London yesterday.
Looking far more like the team who ended New Zealand's winning run last month rather than the one thrashed 33-6 in Paris last week, the Wallabies showed they are at their best when everyone is writing them off.
Superior in every department, not least the scrum where England were expected to dominate, Australia had to defend for long periods in the last quarter.
"We spoke about character and resolve, and we had something to prove tonight," Australia captain Nathan Sharpe said.
"There were times when we had a lot of attack but what won us the game was probably that 20-30 minutes on our tryline when we forced a lot of turnovers."
England, hoping to build on last week's 54-12 thumping of Fiji, were second-best in most areas and again made basic mistakes when in promising positions.
After again starting slowly, England did well to earn nine points from three Toby Flood penalties while Berrick Barnes dropped a goal and scored one penalty to keep things tight. The game then exploded into life in the last five minutes of the first half, with a try apiece.
A poor clearance kick by Danny Care was scooped up by livewire Wallaby halfback Nick Phipps, who scorched through two tackles before timing his pass perfectly to send wing Nick Cummins in for his first international try.
Care quickly made amends though when, having been awarded a very kickable penalty, he opted for a quick tap and that led to Manu Tuilagi scoring in the corner. Australia were quickest out of the blocks again in the second half, as three Barnes penalties edged them ahead - all coming after England struggled to deal with clever chipped kicks.
England fought back hard in the final minutes. Reuters
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