Jonny back to haunt Australia
Sydney - Jonny Wilkinson kicked a long-range penalty to give England a 21-20 victory over Australia on Saturday in his first appearance at the Sydney Olympic Stadium since the 2003 World Cup triumph.
Wilkinson's extra-time drop goal seven years ago against Australia brought the World Cup to Europe for the first and only time. It was also the last time England had beaten the Wallabies in Australia.
England abandoned the one-dimensional approach they adopted in their 27-17 loss to the Wallabies in Perth last week and reaped the reward with tries to scrumhalf Ben Youngs and winger Chris Ashton.
Flyhalf Toby Flood slotted a conversion and two penalties while a 50-metre penalty by his replacement Wilkinson gave England the lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Matt Giteau scored all of the Wallabies' points with two converted tries and two penalties.
"We let ourselves down in the first 40 minutes last week," England captain Lewis Moody said in a televised interview. "We had to address that and the whole squad were fantastic.
"Full credit to everyone, it was a tight game and I really enjoyed it."
England dominated possession and territory and used their backs more effectively than last week, with Youngs exploiting poor defence at the tail of a lineout, while winger Chris Ashton chopped back on the angle after some sustained buildup by the forwards.
Flood added a conversion and a penalty for the visitors but they were unable to pull away as Giteau kept the Wallabies in the game with a converted try and two penalties to leave his side trailing 15-13 at the break.
Giteau continued his scoring monopoly when he finished a move that stretched the England defence back and forth across the field for his second try, which he also converted to give the home side a 20-15 lead early in the second half.
Flood slotted his second penalty before he was replaced by Wilkinson, whose first significant act was to kick the penalty to give England a 21-20 lead after Australia were penalised again for collapsing the scrum.
Giteau had the opportunity to regain the lead for Australia with 10 minutes remaining but he missed the easily kickable penalty from right in front of the posts.
"They turned out a much better performance than last week, they were desperate and they played really well," Australia captain Rocky Elsom said.
"We didn't hold on to the ball well enough, our set piece didn't work as well and we lost a lot of the sting we had from last week in our defence. I think that helped them."
Tries: Giteau 2
Conversions: Giteau 2
Penalties: Giteau 2
Tries: Youngs, Ashton
Penalties: Flood 2, Wilkinson
Australia: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (captain), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 James Slipper, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Lewis Moody (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 David Wilson, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 James Haskell, 20 Danny Care, 21 Jonny Wilkinson, 22 Delon Armitage.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)