Johnson's dynamos are Youngs at heart

Youth, they say, is wasted on the young. Never in Australian rugby and now, it appears, not in England either. Notorious for their mistrust of youth, England's inspiration yesterday came from the cradle.

Let us take, as the primary example, one of the great tries scored by England. When Tom Palmer turned over Will Genia, Australia's scrum-half, the lock's feet were on his own line. Ben Youngs had a vital decision to make – kick clear or pass into a big blind side. It was a decision worthy of comparison with that made by France's Pierre Berbizier and Serge Blanco, in precisely the same area occupied by Youngs, in the 1991 Grand Slam decider. They created a miraculous try for Philippe Saint-André.

But 19 years ago, Blanco and Berbizier were among the most experienced of Frenchmen. Youngs celebrated his 21st birthday in September, he was making only his third start for England and his decision was neither to kick nor to pass but to sell a dummy and run. Outside him were Courtney Lawes, 21 (third start) and Chris Ashton, 23 (fifth start). All three made brilliant decisions, Youngs and Lawes in the timing of the pass, Ashton in his use of acres of space to beat Drew Mitchell on an 80-metre run-in.

Remember, too, that when England beat Australia in Sydney in June, the try-scorers were Youngs and Ashton. Youngs, the man of the match, does not know what it is to start a Test against any side other than the No 1 (New Zealand) or No 2 (Australia) in the world.

"He's just a really mature guy," said Martin Johnson, England's manager. "He's played very, very well and the good thing is he's only 21, he'll get better." All of which runs contrary to received opinion, 10 months away from the seventh World Cup, that global success hinges on experience.

Australia have form where youth is concerned. In 1947 a 21-year-old centre, Trevor Allan, took over the leadership of the Wallabies in Britain, Ireland and France. Think of those talented backs of the 1970s, Tony Melrose and Russell Fairfax; the trust placed in Nick Farr-Jones and Michael Lynagh on the Grand Slam tour of 1984; the emergence of the teenaged centres Tim Horan and Jason Little in 1989.

Their back division yesterday had an average age of 23 and had been good enough to beat New Zealand and Wales. Robbie Deans, Australia's head coach, was content at last to give the goal-kicking to the 20-year-old James O'Connor, his match-winner in Hong Kong against the All Blacks a fortnight ago.

O'Connor kicked three and missed four, a tally brought into stark relief by Toby Flood's 100 per cent return. This has been Australia's Achilles heel for too long. O'Connor had the courage to take over from Matt Giteau, ahead of Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale who are 22 and 21 respectively.

England's trust in youth was reflected in their style of play. As against New Zealand a week earlier they came to play rugby, not to break Australia on the rack of the scrum. In Perth and Sydney in the summer, they dominated the Wallaby scrum; here there were seven scrums in the game, all of which resulted in a penalty or free-kick and gave no platform from which to perform.

That the scrum was a weapon used to good effect against the All Blacks remains true but England's triumph here was the width with which they played. Johnson was at pains to praise the contributions of Mark Cueto (who must have run Youngs close for the individual award), Shontayne Hape and Mike Tindall but his young men took better options.

Early in the game, Youngs ran from defence with Tindall and Flood in an attack which reached Australia's 22, tracked over 60 metres by Ashton who had to come from right to leftto offer support. This new generation will make future opponents think of England ina manner that, hitherto, has seldom been required. The occupants of the cradle are growing up fast.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing