Stuart Lancaster discovers there is no substitute for experience

 

twickenham

You can make what you want of statistics but try this one for size – there was more experience on England's bench than there was in the starting XV and my, how it showed in the first half. The team that ran out boasted 213 caps between them, the eight replacements aggregated 225.

Would England have prevailed but for the unfortunate injury to Scott Fardy and the delay before he could be taken off for treatment to his neck injury? It gave them time to compose themselves, and if there was an element of good fortune to Chris Robshaw's try immediately after Fardy's departure, then England created the pressure that led to it.

Five minutes later England made their first three substitutions, and in every case the replacement brought with him greater experience. Is this the right way round and is Stuart Lancaster, the head coach, any nearer to his best starting XV? Not on the basis of this display, even though England did well to come out ahead of an Australia XV which contained 496 caps.

The link at Nos 8, 9 and 10 vital to the wellbeing of any successful side seems up in the air. So Lee Dickson's club form at scrum-half is better than that of Ben Youngs or Danny Care. Well, Northampton have been going rather better than Leicester or Harlequins but Dickson has the least experience; at No 8, Ben Morgan, the find of last year, has been struggling to get into Gloucester's starting XV, which leaves Owen Farrell as the most assured individual in that core area, even though the fly-half's goalkicking was not at its best.

Tomkins' learning curve

No international debutant knows what to expect, however much he is told, and so it was for Joel Tomkins. The rugby league convert was caught out of position too often but we do know he will be a better player now than he was at 2.30pm yesterday.

Gruelling for Parling

Arguably the most uncomfortable England squad member would have been Geoff Parling. The Leicester lock could not be considered after picking up a concussion in training but he would have squirmed while watching England's line-out problems.

Parling has been the most recent line-out guru, but before the interval Australia nicked two throws (although they did lose one themselves).

Happily England were able to sort out the difficulty after the break, with greater use of their back-row jumpers, Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw.

Lawes finally proves a good call

The last time Courtney Lawes started for England was against France in February, when the shirt he wore was that of blindside flanker. Predictably he was like a fish out of water, but here both the old and the new Lawes came through. The injury to Geoff Parling threw extra weight on his shoulders as line-out caller, and it was not his fault that things went awry in the first half; they improved late on and his work in the loose added a threat.

Head to head: Mike Brown v Israel Folau

A hearty acknowledgement rang round Twickenham when, with a couple of minutes to go, it was announced that Mike Brown was the man of the match. The Harlequins full-back was so far ahead of his colleagues that it seemed hard to conceive the pre-match debate as to whether Brown, Ben Foden or Alex Goode should wear 15.

More to the point was the comparison of Brown with his opposite number, Israel Folau, terror earlier this year of the Lions, the Pumas and any other feline you care to mention. Folau is a class act; a delight under the high ball and a sinuous runner whose link-up play created the position for Australia's try.

Two tries on his international debut against the Lions in Brisbane, three tries against Argentina last month, Folau now has seven tries in 11 appearances and was named his country's rookie of the year. Brown, well, he has no international tries and a reputation (which he is rapidly putting behind him) as the Mr Angry of the Aviva Premiership.

But Brown's counterattacking was a delight, even if he was fortunate that the touch judge did not see him standing on the touchline as he kept an Australian penalty in play and launched the move which ultimately led to England's first try. Brave under the high ball, he is a great chaser too, recovering his own high kick in the first half with singular aplomb.

It was as though he was trying to do what Folau was expected to do and did not. Whether the Australian was playing under orders or respected the wet ball too much, he kicked more than he ran, and when he did run it was into a posse of defenders. Brown will sit more comfortably in his international skin today.

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz