rfu.com and James Mortimer 18.Nov.2012Getty Images
England led 14-11 at the break after the teams shared two first half tries in two minutes, Manu Tuilagi scoring just before the break to reply to Nick Cummins opening try.
But Australia dominated possession and territory in the third quarter and three swift penalties from dead-eye Waratahs playmaker Barnes booted Robbie Deans’ side into a lead they would not relinquish.
Stuart Lancaster’s side surged back into the game – showing ambition to run or kick to touch several kickable penalties – and came close to a winning try on several occasions but ultimately paid the price for not converting visits into the opposition 22 into points.
Flood, who finished with 11 points, had opened the scoring after two minutes, stroking over a penalty after an aerial Sharples challenge saw an Australia chaser offside.
Barnes levelled the scores on the 14 minute mark, slotting a left-footed drop goal after openside Michael Hooper bounced of Tom Youngs and made a 30m break from halfway.
The visitors, with Waratahs’ Hooper to the fore, were disrupting England at the breakdown, with the resultant slow ball stopping scrum half Care from generating any real momentum.
But Hooper treads a fine line and soon gave away a penalty, which Flood gladly accepted from long range. Then desperate but brilliant England defence repelled a series of Australia attacks, but eventually a scrum penalty was eked from Joe Marler, with Barnes again levelling on the half hour mark.
Flood kicked England back into the lead five minutes before the break, before the game was illuminated by the game’s only tries. First Wallabies wing Nick Cummins raced over in the corner for his first Test try, gratefully receiving Nick Phipps’ pass after a smooth break past Tom Palmer and Charlie Sharples from the No.9.
England went into the break in the lead however, Tuilagi inching over for his eighth try in 15 Tests after a long deliberation but Television Match Official Jim Yuille. After Care took a quick tap and the ball was moved wide, Tuilagi ignored Sharples outside him and just dotted the ball down, crashing through the despairing tackles of Phipps and Kurtley Beale.
Australia started the second half in the ascendency, with three Barnes penalties taking them into a six point lead after 54 minutes. The visitors profited from a neat Beale dink – for the second time in the match – and put points on the board after dominating possession and territory with a number of strong carries.
Fresh impetus was needed and replacement Mako Vunipola’s barrelling charge through Wallaby No.6 Dave Dennis and initiating a thrilling passage of play, which nearly saw Chris Ashton go over in the corner. Spurred on by the crowd, England turned the screw and opted for a succession of lineouts deep in Australia’s 22 but Thomas Waldrom lost control of the ball as he stretched for the line.
England surged forward to the last but a knock on from replacement scrum half Ben Youngs and some committed Australia tackling halted momentum at crucial times and the visitors hung on.