England beats Australia 44-40 to secure series whitewash
England secured a 3-0 series whitewash and extended coach Eddie Jones' unbeaten streak to nine matches with a pulsating 44-40 victory against Australia in the third rugby test on Saturday.
Australia scored five tries to England's four, but it was Owen Farrell who again proved the difference between the teams, amassing 24 points with near flawless goal-kicking on a bitterly cold night at Sydney Football Stadium.
Farrell kicked nine goals from 10 attempts to continue England's rise after it claimed the No.2 ranking from Australia with last week's series-clinching win in the second test.
England has now won nine consecutive tests under Jones, since the Australian coach took over after England's dismal showing at the 2015 World Cup where the hosts exited at the group stage.
"That was a brave effort from our team tonight," Jones said. "We weren't at our best, we had a number of players sub-par. It was a fantastic effort from the squad to beat a very good and determined Australian side.
"We're pleased with the 3-0 result, but we realize we've got a lot of work to do. We're inconsistent in our defense, we've had two poor games in defense and one very good game and if we want to be the No. 1 team in the world then we need greater consistency in that."
In a see-sawing contest that had seven lead changes it was prop Dan Cole who opened the scoring in the 12th minute as England took full advantage of Mako Vunipola's surging run, before Ben Youngs popped up a pass for Cole to score next to the posts.
Australia hit back almost immediately in fortuitous fashion. England's lock Maro Itoje slapped the ball from Dane Haylett-Petty's grasp in a tackle, with the loose ball bouncing to Israel Folau off Haylett-Petty's thigh. Folau then raced down field and passed inside to Bernard Foley to score. Foley added the conversion to level at 7-7 after 14 minutes.
The hosts took the lead in the 22nd after Foley found Folau on the outside of England's wide defense and the winger put Haylett-Petty into the corner for Australia to lead 12-7.
After Farrell and Foley traded penalties, England regained the lead on the half-hour with Anthony Watson's chipped kick finding fullback Mike Brown. Farrell expertly guided through the conversion for a 17-15 lead for the visitors.
Foley kicked his second penalty to give Australia a slender 18-17 lead at the break after Itoje was caught offside in the final play of the half.
The Wallabies gifted back the lead to England at the start of the second half when Billy Vunipola picked up the ball at the base of the scrum and barged over the attempted tackle of Haylett-Petty to score.
Farrell missed the conversion but added a penalty minutes later to extend the tourists lead to 25-18.
Keeping to the pattern of ebb and flow, Australia leveled the contest in the 51st when Michael Hooper lunged forward and managed to just place the ball on the line for a try. Foley added the conversion to lock up the scores in front of a ground record crowd of 44,063.
Matt Toomua then burst through Billy Vunipola and substitute Jack Clifford's attempted tackle, before finding Folau out wide and the winger raced away to the corner to score in the 58th. Foley added the conversion from near the sideline for a 32-28 lead.
Farrell kicked a penalty in the 62nd to reduce the margin to 32-31.
Australia's hopes of avoiding a whitewash were dealt a serious blow after Nick Phipps' mistaken pass hit Falou in the legs and gave England possession only meters from the line. Substitute hooker Jamie George then had a pass hit his legs, but showed enough awareness to dive on the loose ball for England's fourth try. Farrell kicked the conversion for a 38-32 lead.
Farrell was again imperious with his goal-kicking and scored his fifth penalty from near the sideline to give England a nine point lead at 41-32 with 10 minutes remaining, but Foley responded to narrow the scores to 41-35.
Farrell kicked a match-clinching penalty in the 78th minute to give him 66 points for the series.
"Owen has been absolutely terrific on tour," said Jones. "He's kicked well, he's played well, really good performance. His kicking is solar-system class."
Australia had the consolation of its fifth try of the evening after the final siren with Taqele Naiyaravoro going over in the corner to complete the scoring at 44-40.
"Too many little inaccuracies after really good buildups," Australia coach Michael Cheika said. "In two matches we scored more tries and you can't say, 'Oh well we should have won because we scored more tries'.
"We lost because we made too many little inaccuracies, we lost too many moments in the game that cut off our flow."