Wallabies down England to take Cook Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies down England to take Cook Cup

By Jim Morton 17/06/2006 11:19:19 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies wrested back the Cook Cup but still sustained some pain while ensuring England suffered its worst rugby Test losing streak in 22 years.

Rising scrum anchor Rodney Blake (ankle), hooker Adam Freier (toe) and backline utility Mat Rogers (thigh) all face possible sideline stints after being injured in an emphatic 43-18 victory at Telstra Dome.

Freier, who had an unhappy night with his lineout throwing before being replaced at half-time, is considered the most serious and will undergo scans on Monday for a possible break.

Rogers' injury further complicates backline selections as Matt Giteau won't resume full contact training after knee surgery until after Saturday's Test against Ireland.

The Wallabies secured a 2-0 series win as attacking maestro Stephen Larkham, silky-skilled winger Mark Gerrard and man-of-the-match Chris Latham ran riot in the six-tries-to-two triumph which could have had an even bigger victory margin.

Even though Australia's more direct attack was an improvement on the scrappy 34-3 first Test win in Sydney last week, it still bombed three second-half tries.

Experimenting coach John Connolly was also frustrated by the set-pieces with the lineout, dominant in Sydney, faltering and the scrum contest lasting for only 40 minutes.

Injuries to English props Julian White (neck) and Graham Rowntree (concussion) meant the scrums were depowered for safety reasons in the second half, preventing some important trialling before the Tri-Nations.

"We would have liked them (the scrums) to continue - we're on a big learning curve with Blake, (Greg) Holmes and Freier," said Connolly, who admitted the performance was a step forward against a disappointing English outfit.

"If anyone had offered these results a couple of weeks ago we would have taken them.

"It's a good start. There's a good feeling."

Veteran halfback George Gregan was allowed 24 minutes of game time off the bench and capped his record-breaking 120th Test by having a hand in Gerrard's second try of the night.

Gregan is set to regain his No.9 jersey in Perth against the Irish, who Connolly warned would be a tougher assignment after pushing the All Blacks close in two Tests.

Not since 1984, when the Grand Slam Wallabies won 19-3 at Twickenham, has England suffered five straight Test losses.

Expecting early fireworks from the under-pressure English, the Wallabies soaked up sustained pressure for most of the first half.

England dominated the ruck and maul count (34-16) but was down 19-6 at half-time, unable to stop three magical Australian moments.

It started with virtually the first attacking movement into he sixth minute when Larkham's grubber found English feet.

Flanker George Smith toed ahead straight into rival winger Tom Varndell and picked up the ricochet for an easy run to the line.

Eight minutes later it was 12-3 when Gerrard flew over the top of Mathew Tait to sensationally score off a cross-field Larkham bomb, reviving memories of Lote Tuqiri's 2003 World Cup final try.

Tuqiri got into the action himself just before the break when he finished off a 30m tackle-busting Chris Latham surge.

Fullback Latham left four opponents in his wake and then bamboozled three cover defenders to find the flying winger and almost raise the Telstra Dome roof.

The crowd-pleasing continued straight after the break when Gerrard again showed his Australian rules skills in the AFL's heartland from a Larkham kick.

It set up field position for Mark Chisholm to stroll over off a deft Larkham pass to cap an impressive first start at blind-side flanker.

The English cut the lead back to 26-11 when hooker George Chuter dummied past Mat Rogers to score.

The Wallabies showed some frailties in their midfield defence but finished off the game with electrifying tries to Gerrard and Larkham.

The tourists suffered a pre-match blow when flanker Lewis Moody was ruled out with a calf injury.

In a match with plenty of feeling, English skipper Pat Sanderson made Tuqiri's blood boil late in the game by pulling his hair during a melee.

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