|Australia: (6) 30
|Tries: Petaia, Fainga’a, Samu; Pens: Lolesio 3; Cons: Lolesio 3
|England: (6) 28
|Try: Genge, Arundell, Van Poortvliet; Pens: Farrell 3; Cons: Farrell 2
England opened their Australia tour by falling to a dismal defeat against a 14-man Wallabies side in Perth, despite scoring two late tries.
Lock Darcy Swain was shown a red card in the first half, with three other home players injured before the break.
Australia held on with the scores 6-6 at half-time before Ellis Genge went over for England.
But the Wallabies bounced back, with Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga’a and Pete Samu scoring in an impressive comeback.
Some consolation came for England as uncapped wing Henry Arundell and debutant scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet went over late on.
But Australia’s victory ends England’s run of eight consecutive wins against the Wallabies and is a fourth defeat in a row for Eddie Jones’ side, including one non-cap fixture against the Barbarians.
It may also reignite calls for England to bring in a new head coach, although the Rugby Football Union showed public support for Jones following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.
Australia hit by injuries and red card – but England cannot capitalise
There was much pre-match anticipation surrounding Test returns for England’s Danny Care, Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell but Australian absentees soon stole the narrative in Perth.
Fly-half Quade Cooper sustained a calf injury in the warm-up, leaving 22-year-old Noah Lolesio to face England’s Marcus Smith.
That was not even the worst of the news for Australia, as three more players left the field during the first half.
Full-back Tom Banks had to come off after appearing to break his arm in a horrible landing following a high ball.
Prop Allan Alaalatoa then followed with a suspected head injury before Swain was given a red card.
England’s Jonny Hill was shown yellow at the same time after the lock pulled Swain’s hair, which prompted the Australian to bump his head against the England man – a red-card offence.
Australia were left to play 45 minutes with 14 men but, following two earlier penalties from Owen Farrell and one from Lolesio, the hosts managed to tie the game at 6-6 just before the break.
From there, England may have been too convinced of victory.
Although Care, back after almost four years, Vunipola and Joe Cokanasiga performed well on their Test return, England’s discipline let them down.
The tourists conceded another penalty at the start of the second half and Lolesio used it to put Australia ahead.
Prop Genge went over, then Farrell kicked a penalty and it felt as if England had control of the game, but Australia had other ideas.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Wallabies spread England’s defence wide and replacement full-back Petaia scored in the corner.
Vunipola was then shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Michael Hooper and in the aftermath Fainga’a peeled off a maul to score.
Samu’s try made matters even worse for England before their uncapped replacements came on with cool heads to try to minimise the damage.
There was not enough time to claim victory but Arundell darted around defenders to score, suggesting that on the international stage, he is ready to live up to the huge promise shown at club level with London Irish.
With Australia down to 13 after Lolesio was sin-binned, Van Poortvliet scored a final try as the match finished with a 30-28 scoreline that did not truly reflect the scale of Australia’s fightback.
Australia: Banks; Kellaway, Ikitau, Kerevi, Koroibete; Cooper, White; Bell, Porecki, Alaalatoa, Swain, Neville, Leota, Hooper (capt), Valetini.
Replacements: Fainga’a, Sio, Slipper, Philip, Samu, Gordon, Lolesio, Petaia.
England: Steward; Nowell, Marchant, Farrell, Cokanasiga; Smith, Care; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Hill, Lawes (capt), Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Heyes, Chessum, Ludlam, Van Poortvliet, Porter, Arundell.