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RugbyU: England bounce back to beat Wallabies

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

England launched their November campaign with a come from behind 20-13 victory over Australia at Twickenham on Saturday as the Wallabies' bid for a Grand Slam fell at the first hurdle.

England were 13-6 down early in the second half and would have been 10 points adrift had Quade Cooper kicked a penalty.

But two tries in seven minutes from captain Chris Robshaw and fly-half Owen Farrell turned the match on its head as England regained the Cook Cup against a Wallaby side they will face in the pool phase of the 2015 World Cup in England.

Defeat extended Australia's poor 2013 record to just three wins from 11 Tests.

England were without five injured British and Irish Lions in centres Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, Tom Croft, lineout specialist Geoff Parling and prop Alex Corbisiero.

England coach Stuart Lancaster gave a Test debut to Joel Tomkins, the centre becoming a dual code international, while the pack saw brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola start a Test together for the first time.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie sprang a surprise earlier in the week when he stripped James Horwill of the captaincy and installed back-row Ben Mowen as his new skipper, with mercurial fly-half Cooper the vice-captain.

England's pack, playing under the new scrum engagement laws for the first time, forced repeated penalties at the set-piece.

But Farrell was unable to take full advantage in a first half where he landed just two out of five penalty attempts, a trio of misses from 44 metres out on the left culminating with a kick that came back off the posts.

Ace kicker Jonny Wilkinson, the drop-goal hero of England's 2003 World Cup final win over Australia, was in the stands with his victorious team-mates of a decade ago.

Cooper had largely been kept in check until he initiated the move that saw Australia score the opening try in the 31st minute.

His excellent wide pass found Israel Folua and the full-back skipped round England wing Chris Ashton's attempted tackle before he was held up short of the line.

However, the ball was recycled and eventually Matt Toomua burst through opposing centre Billy Twelvetrees's tackle from a couple of yards out for a try converted by Cooper.

Cooper then kicked another penalty to give Australia a 13-6 half-time lead.

Early in the second half, Marland Yarde's late tackle on opposing wing Adam Ashley-Cooper gave Australia a penalty only for Cooper to miss for the first time in the match.

England full-back Mike Brown, the man-of-the-match, counter-attacked with a clever step from near his own goal-line, although replays suggested he had a foot on the touch-line meaning the ball ought to have been called 'dead'.

However, the ball was worked to Yarde but he was tackled into touch short of the line by Ashley-Cooper.

From the ensuing lineout close to Australia's line, Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia's clearing kick was charged down by Mako Vunipola and Robshaw pounced on the loose ball for a 50th minute try.

Farrell converted and the match was all square at 13-13.

And the outside-half's day got even better when, spotting a mismatch, he burst through a gap between No 8 Mowen and hooker Stephen Moore for England's second try.

The officials checked for a possible obstruction by England replacement hooker Dylan Hartley on Moore but decided it was insufficient to disallow the score.

Farrell converted and England were seven points in front at 20-13.

Cooper missed a 47 metre penalty with 15 minutes left and, although Australia pounded away from a close range lineout, England's defence held firm.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131102/rugbyu-england-bounce-back-beat-wallabies