Relieved coach Eddie Jones says the “pressure’s on the other mob now” after England deservedly won the second Test against Australia 25-17 to set up a decider, with his young team showing more backbone.
The boot of Owen Farrell proved the difference in Brisbane on Saturday evening, with the veteran Saracens star kicking 20 points to ensure the three-match series heads to Sydney next weekend with the Ella-Mobbs Cup on the line.
Jones was feeling the heat ahead of the clash after England crashed 30-28 in the first Test at Perth, which followed a disappointing Six Nations campaign and an embarrassing loss to the Barbarians.
But the affable Australian insisted the pressure was now on Dave Rennie’s side.
“It’s 1-1. And the pressure’s on the other mob now,” he told Sky Sports. “So they’ve got to deal with that pressure. We’ll find ways of getting better.”
Jones started uncapped duo Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman at centre and wing respectively, while scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet earned a first start, and the gamble paid off.
He has now handed out five new caps in Australia and said his team was starting to gel.
“We’ve got players from 13 different clubs and we just need training time together,” he said.
“This is a very young squad that is developing and they need time,” he added. “The longer they have together the better they will be and the experience (in Brisbane) will be one of those great lessons that you can have.”
England head to Sydney needing to replace lock Maro Itoje, who has been ruled out of the third Test after a concussion, and with concern around flanker Sam Underhill.
But the Wallabies’ injury woes are worse, with Jordan Petaia (concussion), his fullback replacement Izaia Perese (knee), lock Cadeyrn Neville (knee) and replacement prop Scott Sio (shoulder) all forced off the field on Saturday.
They were already missing injured wing Andrew Kellaway, centre Len Ikitau, fly-half Quade Cooper, fullback Tom Banks and prop Allan Alaalatoa, while lock Darcy Swain is suspended.
Rennie said he would consider adding a second-rower to the squad once there was clearer picture of the injury toll, while versatile back Reece Hodge has already been summoned.
“It’s part of the game and we have had a few (injuries), but it wasn’t the reason we lost,” he said after Australia slumped 19-0 down inside the opening 38 minutes before a gutsy fightback.
“We lost the collisions early, they choked us down our end but the first time we got down we scored seven.”
Both Rennie and skipper Michael Hooper pinpointed poor discipline as part of the problem, allowing the laser-like Farrell to kick six penalties.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they put themselves in the right half of the field and kicked six penalties,” said Rennie.
“From a defensive point of view we need to be better with one-on-one tackles.”