England's ill-discipline cost them at Twickenham as Australia retain the Cook Cup. Matt Giteau kicked 20 points and Stirling Mortlock landed a long-range effort as England were punished for conceding careless penalties. England had led 14-12 early in the second half following a try from Nick Easter shortly before the interval but the Wallabies then pulled clear.
Adam Ashley-Cooper sealed the victory for Australia with a try in the closing minutes. But it was a fiery encounter and it took less than 30 seconds for Andrew Sheridan to lock horns with his opposite number Al Baxter in the first scrum of the game. The scrum went down three times before Phil Vickery was penalised for not binding. George Smith took the quick tap and was driven backwards in the tackle by Easter.
But Tom Rees was too eager at the breakdown and conceded a penalty for going off his feet, which Giteau slotted to give Australia the lead after three minutes. Giteau booted the Wallabies further ahead when England captain Steve Borthwick was penalised for being offside at the lineout. England were enjoying early success at the breakdown, turning the ball over twice in the opening stages and clever kicking kept the Wallabies pinned in their own 22.
The England hooker Lee Mears said:. "We are very disappointed, I thought we did some good stuff but were on the end of a tough game. "We were better than that [a 14-point loss] but on the day they executed well and every time they got in our half they ended with points." Scotland face the prospect of being drawn in the most exacting of World Cup pools after South Africa fought back to beat them 14-10 at Murrayfield.
Scotland led 10-0 at half-time in an absorbing clash with the world champions and they had genuine hopes of repeating their 21-6 triumph against the Springboks in 2002. Victory would have catapulted the home side into the top eight of the world rankings and retained for them second-seed status for the 2011 World Cup draw. In other matches, France beat Pacific Islanders 42-17 while Argentina overcame Italy 22-14.
* PA Sport