Brown England's catalyst behind comeback
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
November 2, 2013
Commitment, the buzzword for England © Getty Images
The half-time team-talk; the content of which is much fabled and speculated over. For those who will never have the privilege of being in an international changing room, it is something they want to experience or at least get an inside into. How much or little is actually uttered, is only known by the players and the coaches.
Whatever Stuart Lancaster, or Chris Robshaw, or whoever said in the England area at half-time worked. While Australia sat on the field in the break between the two stanzas, all in front of a crowd applauding the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, England took refuge inside the East Stand.
In the first-half, England were, bar their scrum and Mike Brown, woeful. Quade Cooper and Israel Folau were given space and time and they enjoyed it. Australia did not have to do too much to go into the break ahead.
In contrast, Owen Farrell's passes found outstretched heels and any breaks made by Billy Vunipola were looked upon in surprise rather than as part of the plan. Farrell's boot failed to find the right section of the uprights as he slotted two from five while Tom Youngs' lineout faltered. Billy Twelvetrees struggled and looked weak when faced with Matt Toomua for the passage of play which led to his score. Twickenham was deathly silent, the frustration was becoming ever more tangible.
Then came half-time. England emerged focused. Quade Cooper missed an early penalty and Twickenham erupted. Marland Yarde was finding some bite after a first-half which saw Australia target him. Brown, perhaps frustrated at the rest of his team's shortcomings, took the bull by the horns and attacked the Australian defence. It was the catalyst Lancaster's team needed.
Suddenly England looked a collective unit. Chris Robshaw's try gave his team hope, Farrell's belief. Ben Youngs' introduction was timely and he should start ahead of Lee Dickson next week. Chris Ashton, who experienced his finest moment in an England shirt against Australia on the very same turf three years ago, started searching for the ball. Yarde was coming inside and looking for work. England were clicking. Australia started walking to lineouts rather than jogging.
But at the centre of all England did well was Brown. He kept his head down, looked for opportunities and attacked with gusto. Lancaster described his showing as "outstanding" post-match, a fair reflection of his monumental performance.
The two tries were enough to see England home. Forward strength and aggression was their cocktail with a completely dominant pack giving them that essential go-forward. There are still question-marks surrounding their centre partnership, they badly lacked a voice to organise the play there. But five wins on the bounce at Twickenham is not something to be sniffed at and the victory was essential today.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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