Well, what can I say about last weekend’s performance from England? Stunning, determined and perhaps just a little bit courageous. Just look at the history between England and Australia, a one sided affair for the better part; sure, no one is going to forget 2003, but do we not all get a feeling that this is starting to feel a little bit like 2003 all over again from this current England team? A grand slam Six Nations and then the opportunity to take it to the Aussies? That same grit and determination that sewed up the world cup all those years ago was displayed in spades on Saturday and I for one am excited to see just how far this can go.
Australia wanted this one badly, but nowhere near as badly as us, and this was demonstrated so well at the end of the first half. For the boys to be camped on their try line for twenty-two phases of attack and not let their guard slip, not let the discipline come undone and keep that winning mentality was ultimately the difference between England leaving the pitch with their head held high and the Aussies taking a long hard look in the changing room mirror.
Just look at the stats, we had less than third of the possession and were made to produce four times as many tackles, but we made it count, we pounced on the opportunities that presented themselves and were clinical in execution.
Dylan Hartley has certainly turned into the captain that Eddie envisioned him to be and he is conducting himself like a true leader. Running from the front, leading by example, putting in the big shifts and ultimately collecting tries and plaudits because of his efforts. Well done that man.
Billy Vunipola is a player transformed. No longer a wrecking ball that you bring on for that massive impact in the last twenty or thirty minutes of a game, no sir, he is now punishing oppositions for the full 80 minutes and this is exciting. The intensity at the breakdown is second to none and although you could fault him for bringing on the afore mentioned twenty-two phase onslaught from Australia (look at the clock before you kick the ball Billy) he made sure that he wasn’t going to be responsible for that mistake costing England any points, a quarter of the tackles made in those phases were made by Billy and part of his reward was celebrating the first ever series win down under.
I’ve got to be honest, there are too many names performing exceptionally well to write it all down, but you can see the passion in the whole team. Robshaw might have lost his captaincy but it has made him dig deep on the pitch to prove his place. Haskell carried and hit so hard on Saturday that he could barely haul himself from the field, but this where it counts, not one of the England team is leaving anything on the pitch. They’re playing hard, rebuilding in the week off and then going again.
Whitewash down under? Let’s hope so