England 26-17 Australia: Ben Morgan scores twice in victory

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer at Twickenham
England 26-17 Australia: Ben Morgan double gives hosts win
Autumn international
England (13) 26
Tries: Morgan (2); Cons: Ford (2); Pens: Ford (4)
Australia (3) 17
Tries: Foley, Skelton; Cons: Foley, Cooper; Pen: Foley

England overpowered a weary Australia to end their disappointing autumn campaign on a high and ease the pressure on head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Two tries from Ben Morgan and 16 points from the boot of George Ford were the reward for overwhelming scrum supremacy and a far more pragmatic display.

After defeats early in the month by New Zealand and South Africa, this was a precious southern-hemisphere scalp for England with the World Cup just eight games away.

England played to strengths - Lancaster

Australia had more daring and dash with ball in hand, but it is now six defeats in seven Tests for the Wallabies and it will be England with the clear advantage when the two sides meet again in the group stages next year.

With skipper Chris Robshaw having his best game of the series, Courtney Lawes and Brad Barritt outstanding in defence and Ford controlling territory with a solid kicking display, Lancaster's men were able to keep a spirited Australia fightback at bay and retain the Cook Cup.

Australia's early lead through Bernard Foley's penalty was quickly cancelled out by a brace from Ford, and although quick Wallaby ball in England's 22 saw Adam Ashley-Cooper in space with Rob Horne free outside him, Lawes sprinted across to produce a try-saving tackle.

It was the visitors with the invention and quick ball, Foley spurning two kickable penalties to go for touch, but England's defence again stood firm.

And their traditional scrum dominance in this fixture paid rich dividends again half-an-hour in, the Australia set-piece going backwards, Barritt crashing through the first tackle and Morgan thundering onto Tom Wood's short pass to twist and turn over the line for his second try of the month.

Ford's conversion extended the lead to 13-3 and it was nearly more as a canny Ben Youngs kick into the deserted Wallaby 22 off turnover ball was almost gathered by Mike Brown before Anthony Watson knocked on with the cover desperately scrambling back.

Ford missed a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time and another just after, but with Robshaw a constant nuisance at the breakdown and Lawes chopping down gold-shirted men across the pitch there was rare optimism in the clear Twickenham air.

Within five minutes the old stadium was silenced. Israel Folau made a half-break, Foley fed Horne with a cute inside pass and, as the winger drew full-back Brown, the fly-half galloped on to take the return pass and run under the posts.

Bernard Foley dives over to score for Australia
Bernard Foley's converted try put Australia right back in it - but he was immediately replaced

His conversion made it 13-10 and, although he then hobbled off, Cooper took up the reins with alacrity, sending Ashley-Cooper away before Brown held him up.

England were increasingly predictable with ball in hand, repeatedly using Barritt to bash the ball up the middle with the pace of Watson and Jonny May unused on the flanks.

But after Cooper had dithered over a clearing kick to be scragged behind his own line, their scrum made a mess of their retreating opposition again and Morgan picked the ball up from the base to plop over.

With a 10-point lead and 20 minutes left, England seemed to have the match by the neck, yet within three minutes the Wallabies were back in it.

A series of rapid drives set up possession a few metres from the posts and the giant replacement Will Skelton powered over, Cooper adding the extras for 20-17.

Ford, again impressive on his second Test start, made it a six-point game with his third penalty as Lancaster emptied his bench.

Still the pressure came. Australia kicked for the corner and battered at the white-shirted line, working space down the left only for Folau to put his final pass beyond Horne with the overlap beckoning.

Scrum penalty followed maul penalty, Australia with little left in the tank after a punishing campaign, and Ford was able to stroke over another penalty late on as Lancaster and his fellow coaches celebrated with undisguised relief.

Ben Morgan scores the first of his two tries for England
Number eight Morgan scored two tries as England's power proved too much for Australia
George Ford looks questioningly to the stands at Twickenham on Saturday
George Ford, 21, had most of the answers at fly-half on only his second start for England
England's Courtney Lawes, Mike Brown, Brad Barritt and George Kruis celebrate retaining the Cook Cup
England's Courtney Lawes, Mike Brown, Brad Barritt and George Kruis enjoyed retaining the Cook Cup

England: Brown; Watson, Barritt, Twelvetrees, May; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Wilson, Attwood, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan, Kruis.

Replacements: Farrell for Barritt (62), Wigglesworth for Youngs (71), Mullan for Marler (55), Webber for Hartley (72), Brookes for Wilson (61), Kruis for Lawes (55), Haskell for Wood (78), Yarde for Kruis (79).

Australia: Folau; Speight, Ashley-Cooper, Toomua, Horne; Foley, Phipps; Slipper, Faingaa, Kepu, Carter, Simmons, McMahon, Hooper, McCalman.

Replacements: Beale for Speight (64), Cooper for Foley (46), White for Phipps (50), Robinson for Slipper (68), Hanson for Faingaa (73), Alexander for Kepu (52), Jones for Simmons (41), Skelton for McMahon (59).

Att: 82,049

Ref: Jerome Garces (France).

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