Giteau's kick in the teeth for Robinson

England 19 Australia 21

This so-called friendly for the Cook Cup, rather than something more global, was generally billed as the payback Test. The team inflicting the revenge was supposed to be England, for the 50-point embarrassment in Brisbane last June, not the Wallabies for the World Cup defeat in Sydney 12 months ago.

This so-called friendly for the Cook Cup, rather than something more global, was generally billed as the payback Test. The team inflicting the revenge was supposed to be England, for the 50-point embarrassment in Brisbane last June, not the Wallabies for the World Cup defeat in Sydney 12 months ago.

Only a small proportion of the 73,000 crowd here would have been in Brisbane - principally the gold and green Wallaby pocket in the north stand - but 70,000 others were left dumbstruck by the latest epic contest. Two years ago here, when England's sweet chariot was driven by Clive Woodward, the home side edged it 32-31. Yesterday a reformed England were outsmarted by a team that punched way above its weight and thoroughly deserved a famous victory.

Having overturned a 15-0 deficit with three tries in a magnificent 16-minute spell in the second half, England, bewilderingly, lost the plot. Andy Robinson, Woodward's successor, cannot be blamed for Charlie Hodgson's kicking lapse but he has to shoulder responsibility for the unprofessional situation in which England found themselves. Both sides lost their goal-kickers - Elton Flatley went off with a leg injury in the 24th minute and Hodgson, with a similar affliction, in the 70th - but there the comparison ends.

Australia moved the talented Matt Giteau to stand-off; England replaced Hodgson with a scrum-half, Harry Ellis, and had another scrum-half, Andy Gomarsall, at stand-off. That, however, was not as criminal as their predicament in the goal-kicking department. The Wallabies, in Giteau, had an admirable understudy and he went on to win the game by converting a pressure penalty, his third, in the 72nd minute. England, on the other hand, were up the creek without a navigator.

First Andy Robinson took off Henry Paul in the 24th minute. It was a tactical substitution, probably based on Paul's vulnerability in defence where it was noticeable that Hodgson, who is no Jonny Wilkinson in hand-to-hand conflict, was having to produce an increasing number of tackles. "It was right for Will Greenwood to come on for Henry,'' Robinson insisted. "It was designed to change the game and I will never shy away from making such decisions.''

Unfortunately, the move came back to haunt him. Paul was the back-up goal-kicker and when Hodgson picked up a dead leg in the second half England were forced to kick for the corners rather than at goal. When they scored tries they were obliged to turn to players who are not recognised kickers. Mike Tindall landed two conversions but earlier Gomarsall, called upon to attempt the conversion of Lewis Moody's try, missed a kick that was even easier than the two shocking penalty misses by Hodgson during a pointless first half for England. With only two points separating the sides, the significance was obvious. The score in tactical terms was Andy Robinson 1, Eddie Jones 2.

Australia, recording their first victory at Twickenham in six years, stunned England with two tries inside the first 27 minutes. When George Gregan, not as sharp as he was but still a useful performer, worked the short side, Giteau opened up the defence with alarming ease, selling a dummy, beating Joe Worsley and advancing to the 22 where he found the hooker Jeremy Paul, who galloped over, shrugging off Josh Lewsey in the process. Flatley converted but then became a casualty during a fantastic phase of play by England which was repelled by an inspired Wallaby defence.

Giteau, who made his debut here two years ago as a replacement, has improved with leaps and bounds of kangaroo quality. The centre turned stand-off also had a hand in his side's second try, feeding the full-back Chris Latham, who eluded Lewsey's poor tackle and had the strength to resist the attentions of Tindall before planting the ball with his right hand.

Giteau missed the conversion but thereafter performed impeccably with his left boot. Sadly for England, the same could not be said of Hodgson.

England had to wait 30 minutes to receive their first kickable penalty, which must be some sort of record. Even more remarkable was that Hodgson, who did not miss a thing against South Africa the previous week, failed with the kick and then again with another. England, who had enjoyed 56 per cent of the possession, found themselves 12-0 down at half-time, and two minutes after the restart, when Danny Grewcock was penalised for holding the extremely impressive Justin Harrison on the ground, it became 15-0, Giteau scoring from 35 yards.

It meant England had to score three times, and they did so. In the 48th minute, as England's possession rose to 66 per cent and Australia began to concede a string of penalties, England felt they had no choice but to kick for the corner and the tactic worked. Moody touched down at the bottom of an irresistible rolling maul and their second try, in the 61st minute, came from a similar approach, this time Lewsey wheeling away on the blind side of a maul. England's third try was far more inventive, Lewsey and Jason Robinson entering the line to create an overlap on the right wing for Mark Cueto, and the Sale flyer crossed for his fourth try in three appearances.

Having hit the front with 16 minutes left, Andy Robinson expected England to pull clear. Instead, they found the half-backs at sixes and sevens and Gomarsall's late shoulder charge on Giteau enabled the Wallaby to land the winning goal.

"We made too many errors,'' the coach said. "It's all about inches and maybe we stopped playing when we got in front. We should have won but we didn't close the game down. Suddenly we gave two penalties away and you can't afford to give Australia a sniff. It was a big lesson for us to learn. It would be very easy to blame the goal-kicker but Charlie can be proud of his performances over the last three weeks.''

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. A year old will suffice for Australia.

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