Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury led the lung-bursting effort at the heart of the home pack but for a long while England were pushed hard by a Wallaby team inspired by the jet-heeled wing Marika Koroibete.
A crucial error when Koroibete failed to finish off a sweeping Wallaby move was the cue for England to pull clear late on, as tries by Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May and Danny Care sent Twickenham into the kind of raptures missing from the win over Argentina here seven days ago.
Returning inside centre Owen Farrell struck the first points with a 40-metre penalty after six minutes, and England’s other comeback kid Maro Itoje was into the fray 10 minutes later as flanker Sam Underhill went off with a head knock after making a tackle on Australia’s impressive No.8, Sean McMahon.
A few in the capacity crowd attempted a chorus of ‘Oh Maro Itoje’ but most either missed the reference or were waiting to see how the popular Saracen got on. Itoje went into the second row with Lawes moving to the blindside and Chris Robshaw into Underhill’s openside berth.
McMahon earned a penalty with a sharp tackle on May and attempted strip as Dylan Hartley and Mako Vunipola were unable to clear the Wallaby out, but fly-half Bernard Foley clipped the kick wide from head on to the posts.
At the other end, May gave chase to a hack by Youngs, and with Wallaby captain Michael Hooper labouring by comparison with England’s recalled flyer on the wing, it needed full-back Kurtley Beale to act quickly to keep May at bay.
Itoje was soon up to his familiar tricks, nicking a dangerous Wallaby line-out, after England’s front row had been penalised at scrum engagement.
Then came a moment of danger for England as Tevita Kuridrani grubber-kicked between the home side’s back three, and when Koroibete tried and failed to control the ball with his foot, Hooper slid in and claimed a try.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe ruled against it, however, deciding Hooper had been offside and stayed that way from Kuridrani’s original nudge.
Australia’s coach Michael Cheika looked furious in replays shown on Twickenham’s big screens, but he soon had other problems to deal with.
England kicked a penalty to touch, looking for a try, but ended up with a second penalty by Farrell for a 6-0 lead instead, after a maul was dragged down and Hooper went to the sin bin. It was the second week in a row for the Wallabies’ 78-times capped captain to see yellow for persistent infringement, after the same happened in his side’s 29-21 win over Wales in Cardiff.
And Australia finished the half – and started the second – with 13 men as Beale followed his skipper into the bin for knocking down a pass from May to Joseph.
But a break led by Hartley and carried on by the galloping Itoje came to nothing for England as the substitute ignored May outside him, then there was a fumble in midfield – one of many for both teams on a wet afternoon of constant heavy drizzle.
Hooper came back on and Australia had their first points – an excellent 47-metre kick by Reece Hodge, who is the Wallabies’ long-distance specialist equivalent of Elliot Daly – after Vunipola failed to roll away.
Koroibete was involved again with a dart off the line to make a piledriving tackle on Farrell in the Australian 22.
Then came an extraordinary passage of play that ended with England 13-3 ahead.
Samu Kerevi looked to have been dumped in a tricky spot by his team-mate Beale but the centre shrugged off a battalion of English tacklers and raced upfield only for his pass inside to be dropped by Kuridrani.
Youngs scooped the loose ball up and kicked diagonally to the left wing. Beale covered across but in scenes a little reminiscent of a European Cup final try by Rob Howley here once upon a time, the Wallaby had the ball kicked from under his nose by Daly, and the Wasps wing scored after making the controlling dab that Koroibete had failed to achieve, earlier on.
Farrell wanted to crack on with the conversion but need not have worried as forensically focussed TV replays showed the ball stayed millimetres infield as Daly and Beale pursued it.
Farrell made the conversion, and England had a small cushion going into the final quarter.
Robshaw was penalised for a late tackle and Beale caused jitters with a neat chip and chase in the England 22 which led to a line-out but the Wallabies were repelled with Launchbury working hard in the maul.
But Australia kept coming and engineered an opening that might have set up a grandstand finish.
That man Koroibete sliced England apart, off a pass by Beale, and Foley gave good support before a recycle to Koroibete who should have scored but instead butchered the try as he bundled into his team-mate Stephen Moore, who was offside blocking Robshaw.
Relieved England made the wasteful Wallabies pay, three times over. With 71 minutes gone, Care box-kicked over a ruck and Joseph outpaced Hodge and Nick Phipps to gather and cleverly allow his body skidding across the wet turf to do the rest for his 17th international try.
Farrell converted for 20-6, and in the final two minutes, England scored twice more.
Replacements Sam Simmonds and Care combined as the scrum-half, on for Youngs, chipped ahead for May to collect his 11th try of the season.
Then May collected a tired Aussie fumble, and thought he had a run-in. Koroibete cut him down but the alert Care was on hand to complete the try, and now only an upset of epoch-making proportions when Samoa come here next week will prevent England completing a second successive autumn-series clean sweep.
England 30 Australia 6
Scorers: England: tries: Daly, Joseph, May, Care; conversions: Farrell 2; penalties: Farrell 2.
Australia: penalties: Hodge, Foley.
England: A Watson; J May, J Joseph, O Farrell, E Daly; G Ford (rep H Slade 70th min), B Youngs (D Care 70); M Vunipola (J Marler 64), D Hartley (capt; J George 57), D Cole (H Williams 67), J Launchbury, C Lawes, C Robshaw, S Underhill (M Itoje 17), N Hughes (S Simmonds 63).
Australia: K Beale; R Hodge, T Kuridrani, S Kerevi (K Hunt 67), M Koroibete; B Foley, W Genia (N Phipps 71); S Sio (T Robertson 70), T Polota-Nau (S Moore 64), S Kepu (A Alaatatoa 67), R Simmons, B Enever (M Philip 62), N Hanigan (B McCalman 41), M Hooper, S McMahon (L Timani 78).
Referee: B O’Keeffe (New Zealand).
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