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Saturday, June 6, 1998 Published at 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK

Sport: Rugby Union

Australia 76 England 0

The England coach, Clive Woodward: back to the drawing board

England's have opened their Southern Hemisphere tour with their biggest ever defeat against a rampant Australia in Brisbane.

They were humiliatingly defeated 76-0.

Without several injured or unavailable big names, England coach Clive Woodward named five new caps - Spencer Brown, Steve Ravenscroft, Ben Sturnham, Scott Benton and late call-up Richard Pool-Jones.

But it was boys against men.

England prevented Australia from getting on the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes, but after that the ruthless Wallabies ran in four first-half tries, and another seven in the second half.

In contrast, England's 19-year-old fly-half Jonny Wilkinson missed two comfortable penalty chances.

Determined tackling by England full-back Tim Stimpson, with vital interceptions on Wallaby wings Joe Roff and Ben Tune, kept Australia at bay until centre Gareth Archer was penalised for pulling down in a line-out.

Matt Burke came up from fullback to stroke the ball through the uprights from 30 metres.

England went straight back at their opponents, and within three minutes they won the put-in to a scrum five metres out from the Australian posts. But that was the closest they ever came to scoring, and they were lucky to win a penalty despite losing the initiative.

[ image: Jonny Wilkinson had a baptism of fire]
Jonny Wilkinson had a baptism of fire
It was a chance for Wilkinson to bring England level, and score his first international points. But he missed.

Seconds later Burke gave him a lesson in kicking converting a penalty from a central position 42 yards out.

Wilkinson missed his second chance, but England were still attempting to take the game to Australia, and only a last ditch tackle prevented Brown from marking his debut with a spectacular try.

Despite England's bravery, Australia's superior experience was beginning to show as they extended their lead to 11-0 with a 30th minute try by Toutai Kefu, after a superb change of direction stretched England's defence.

Straight from the restart Australia broke away to score a beautiful try right under the posts.

Tune kicked over a retreating defence and Larkham sprinted clear to score.

They scored twice more before half time, first Larkham creating an easy try for Tim Horan in the corner, then Wilkinson's attempted clearance was charged down and Tune scored and Burke converted to make it 33-0 at the interval.

It that was bad, the second half was worse. Again England kept Australia at bay for the first 16 minutes, but then they were simply overrun.

The floodgates opened when an England move floundered and Horan set up a thrilling 65m counter-attack.

Tune broke deep into England territory passed to Horan who sent Larkham over for his second touchdown.

Burke made it 47-0, finishing off a beautiful move and converting the try after Horan had glided into space, leaving England's defence for dead.

England blooded their seventh new cap of the game by sending on Richmond wing Dominic Chapman for Stimpson merely preceded the final blitz in the 70th minute.

Australian centre Daniel Herbert was stopped short of the line but managed to flick the ball to Tune, who claimed his second touchdown.

England's humiliation was not yet complete, Gregan helped himself to a try then Larkham completed a glorious hat-trick to leave England losing 66-0 with seven minutes still to go.

But Australia were still not satisfied and the outstanding Horan glided over for his second try from Roff's pass, but England's final humiliation was reserved for the final seconds.

Given a rare penalty in sight of the Australia line by referee Watson, Archer made a hash of the set move and Tune gathered loose possession to spring 80 metres and complete the rout.

The shattering defeat means that Woodward faces a monumental task to rebuild broken hearts and shattered confidence before the now nightmare prospect of a trip across the Tasman sea to New Zealand.

Several of his debutants may feel they never want to pull on an England shirt again.

The game was not only England's heaviest ever defeat, it was Australia's record win, eclipsing their 73-3 defeat of Western Samoa four years ago.

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