England (9) 9 Pens: Wilkinson 2 Drop-goal: Wilkinson Australia (5) 18 Tries: Genia, Ashley-Cooper Con: Giteau Pens: Giteau 2
Aussies two tries too much for England
By James Standley
Australia produced a dominant second-half performance to beat England for the second time in a row at Twickenham.
The returning Jonny Wilkinson opened the scoring with an early drop-goal for England and he soon added a penalty.
Australia hit back through a Will Genia try but a second Wilkinson penalty made it 9-5 at the break.
The Wallabies then took control and two Giteau penalties and a converted Adam Ashley-Cooper try ensured they started their Grand Slam tour with a victory.
England went into the game battered by an injury crisis which meant boss Martin Johnson had nearly two XVs unavailable, but Wilkinson was back after an 18-month absence and he took just two and a half minutes to make his mark.
The fly-half, winning his 71st cap, drilled a long-range drop-goal unerringly through the posts to give England an early lead.
The England casualty list included four-fifths of the first-choice tight-five, so often the basis of England's power-based gameplan, but the restructured pack shrugged off the absence of behemoths such as Andrew Sheridan and Simon Shaw to take control of the game for the first half hour.
Wilkinson soon slotted a penalty after Australia could only halt a sweeping England attack by infringing and he then hit the woodwork from halfway as the hosts started impressively.
Australia had barely enjoyed any possession but after a torrid time in the Tri-Nations which had seen them win just one out of their last seven Tests, they were relishing the chance to take on easier opponents than South Africa and New Zealand, the teams ranked number one and two in the world.
We need to get used to each other - Wilkinson
The Wallabies may lack the sheer power of the Springboks and All Blacks but they are a potent attacking force and when they were given a lucky break they took full advantage.
A controversial decision by the assistant referee saw Australia awarded a throw-in on the England 22 and after they swept the ball across the width of the field, impressive scrum-half Genia dummied and sniped over from close range.
Giteau missed the conversion and England went straight back on the attack, with a powerful surge yielding a simple penalty for Wilkinson, which he duly slotted to edge England into a 9-5 lead, but after a slow start Australia had finally grown into the game.
England wing Monye, tackled here by Peter Hynes, struggled to find space
They looked much more threatening than England with the ball in hand and it took two superb Wilkinson tackles, which saw him drive back giant Wallaby lock Mark Chisholm and then cut down the flying Giteau, to ensure England led at half-time.
There had been ominous signs for England leading up to the break and Australia duly came out and took control of the game from the re-start.
Some desperate defence from Matt Bahanan just kept out Australia captain Rocky Elsom but when England infringed Giteau cut the gap to one point.
Australia were now dominating territory and possession and although England again escaped as Digby Ioane was halted inches from scoring, the hosts were penalised at the resulting scrum and Giteau gave Australia the lead for the first time in the game.
Wilkinson was outstanding - Genia
It was a very harsh penalty, as replacement prop Duncan Bell was penalised when it looked as though it was Australia who had taken the scrum down, but it made little difference to the flow of the game.
England tried to raise the tempo and replacement number eight James Haskell enjoyed some rumbustuous moments.
But Australia's backs were proving hard to handle and the tourists sealed victory with nine minutes remaining when Ashley-Cooper powered 20m to score a converted try despite having Mark Cueto and Ugo Monye hanging off him.
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