Rugby World Cup 2019: England thrashes Australia 40-16 to enter semis

Jonny May marked his 50th Test appearance as England thumped Australia 40-16 and qualify for the semifinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

England has now won seven successive Tests against Australia and will face defending champion New Zealand or Ireland in the last four.   -  Getty Images

Jonny May marked his 50th Test appearance with two tries as England gained Rugby World Cup revenge over Australia, reaching the semifinals with an emphatic 40-16 win in Oita.

May crossed twice in the space of four first-half minutes to give England, which was humiliatingly eliminated on home soil four years ago courtesy of a pool-stage defeat to the Wallabies, a lead it never relinquished.

Australia was ultimately well beaten in what appears likely to be Michael Cheika's final game in charge, Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson also crossing in the second half as England, for whom Tom Curry was outstanding, thundered clear.

Eddie Jones' men have now won seven successive Tests against Australia since that painful 2015 defeat and will face defending champion New Zealand or Ireland in the last four.

The Wallabies had more of the ball throughout the contest, yet England was much more clinical as it showed no signs of rust in its first game for a fortnight, the 2003 champion's final pool game against France having been cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Teenage back Jordan Petaia - a bold selection from Cheika at outside centre - was prominent in a superb start for the underdogs, but the Wallabies' early dominance only yielded three points from Christian Lealiifano.

Having been initially pegged back by Australia's direct running and impressive ruck speed, England dramatically seized the initiative through May.

The Leicester wing's first score was a straightforward one as he accepted Curry's delayed pass to go over in the left corner, after Manu Tuilagi had played a key role in marching England forward.

A more eye-catching try quickly followed when Henry Slade intercepted a loose pass from David Pocock. Slade did not have the legs to reach the line, but he kicked ahead for May, who gathered calmly and outpaced Samu Kerevi to dot down again.

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Owen Farrell, playing at fly-half for the first time in the tournament, twice converted from the left touchline and added a simple penalty in between two three-pointers from Lealiifano, ensuring England led 17-9 at the interval.

Australia briefly reduced its deficit to a solitary point as Marika Koroibete streaked over from Petaia's inside pass, only for England to respond immediately, Farrell's flat cut-out pass laying on a try for Sinckler.

England never looked back thereafter and skipper Farrell kicked three further penalties before Watson's 76th-minute interception try rubbed salt in Australia's wounds.


Colossal Curry outshines Pocock and Hooper

Curry has already delivered a number of fine displays in an England shirt, but this was surely his best to date as the 21-year-old shone in attack and defence.

In direct opposition to the celebrated Australia pairing of Pocock and Michael Hooper, Curry was the star of the show.

Fellow flanker Sam Underhill also impressed and England’s back row will surely be key if they are to repeat their 2003 triumph.

Jones' selection comes up trumps

Some eyebrows were raised when England head coach Jones opted to bring in Slade for George Ford, a switch that saw Farrell shift from 12 to 10.

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The move could hardly have worked out better. Farrell excelled at fly-half, having largely underwhelmed when he was in the centres, while Slade also made a number of telling contributions, most notably in laying on May’s second try.


Key Opta Facts

- England’s 24-point margin of victory was its biggest in a Rugby World Cup knockout game and Australia’s heaviest defeat in the knockouts.
- This was England’s joint biggest victory against Australia in Test history (30-6 in Nov 2017); in fact, England’s three biggest wins against the Wallabies have come under Eddie Jones.
- Australia has lost just three of its nine Rugby World Cup quarter-final matches, each of those three defeats has come against England (also 1995, 2007).
- Jonny May won his 50th cap, he became the first player to score a brace of tries in a Rugby World Cup match for England since Will Carling and Rory Underwood both crossed twice against New Zealand in the 1995 semi-final.
- Sam Underhill (20), Mako Vunipola (18), Jamie George (17), and Owen Farrell (17) all surpassed the previous highest tackle tally in a Rugby World Cup match by an England player (5 players previously made 16).
- Kyle Sinckler became just the sixth prop to score a try in a Rugby World Cup knockout game and the first since Tony Woodcock in the 2011 final.