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Rugby | International Rugby

'Take the points' mentality brings Aus home

For all the talk of scrum dominance and backs being given the confidence to play,Australia triumphed over England on Saturday primarily because they chose to kick their penalties while England opted to run them.

England's World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward's mantra was "TCUP" - an acronym for "thinking clearly under pressure" - but it was the Wallabies who kept their cool in the cauldron of Twickenham to chalk up a deserved 20-14 victory.

The match turned in the first 15 minutes of the second half when persistent Wallaby pressure earned three penalties, all of which fullback Berrick Barnes slotted to turn a 14-11 halftime deficit into a match winning 20-14 advantage.

England had led after Danny Care eschewed a very kickable penalty and saw his tap and go lead to Manu Tuilagi scoring in the corner following three penalties for Toby Flood.

Although the conversion was missed, that five-point success and the lift it gave the crowd must have been at the forefront of their minds as they repeated the action twice more, with another tougher kick also spurned, and saw all three subsequent attacks come to nought.

This was not desperate, last-gasp throwing of the dice but calls made with plenty of time on the clock to keep chipping away at the narrow deficit.

Rugby teams from test level to the most junior have been and will continue to be tempted by the try and its supposed psychological impact, even when two easily-convertable penalties offer an almost guaranteed and often greater return.

"You want to score tries but when your opponent concedes penalties and the momentum's gone sometimes you just have to bank it and then try to go again," said Australia coach Robbie Deans, delighted with his side's performance a week after they were thumped 33-6 by France.

Of England's riskier approach, he said: "You make those decisions in real time and they are an indication of what they are feeling in the contest.

"England threw a lot at us but the boys had a lot of faith in the defensive line."

England coach Stuart Lancaster also supported the decisions. "I thought it was right, certainly the time we went to the corner when I though the momentum was with us," he said.

"In the first half Danny taps, Manu scores. We tried it again a couple of times and you've got to back your players in that regard. "If we are going to give them the confidence to go out there and play then we have to make sure we back them."

Captain Chris Robshaw said they would examine the decisions in the cold light of day. "We scored a try once and got turned over another time and nearly scored as well," he said. "But we need to make sure if you do go, you come away with some points.

"Some great chances went begging. We need to be clinical when you play the best teams - if you get one chance you have to take it."

Australia looked the more dangerous side throughout, scoring a nice try through winger Nick Cummins after a sharp break by scrumhalf Nick Phipps.

Barnes was a threat all day and his succession of clever kicks and grubbers caused England endless problems.

"They played a smart game, those chips over the top hurt us," said Lancaster.

"For us there were lots of positives, there was an intent to play, but a lack of execution let us down."

England now have to lift themselves for games against South Africa and New Zealand while Australia go on to play Italy and Wales in a totally different frame of mind than they were in coming away from Paris.

"It was much better than last week, but it had to be," said Deans.

"A big part of the adjustment was mental. Paris is a bit like that, you've got to turn up or you get put away."


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