Australia 33 – 13 England
The little things.
In the first half Mike Brown, the excellent England fullback, made four uncharacteristic errors. Taking a ball out, knock ons, and being out of position to gift Australia their first try.
Ben Youngs, the England halfback, is slow to the breakdown, slow to decide, giving out loopy passes. A succession of half-seconds that allowed the Aussie defence to compose.
Laboured passing in the backline, just behind rather than in front, that let the rushing defence get up and disrupt.
The referee deciding not to review a cleanout by Michael Hooper with the shoulder and at the head of Mike Brown. Should have been a yellow, could have been a red, and certainly should be cited.
The little things that Australia turned to their advantage, and exploited with pace. Israel Folau injecting from the back was superb. Giteau and Ashley-Cooper and Beale and especially Foley making good decisions. And the wonderful David Pocock showing he’s the best in the world at pilfering.
And with all of that, England still had the ingredients to do so much better. The scrum competed, even if it didn’t quite dominate and damage. The lineout was solid. A couple of probing line breaks down the left that weren’t exploited. The ingredients, but not the ability to bake the cake.
The second half: England almost played themselves back into the match and, interestingly, the Aussies lost some composure. Some, but not enough to save England. And the England bench did not have the final-quarter impact that other teams experience.
This is very sad for Stuart Lancaster, the England coach. He never quite had the courage of his convictions; wanting to play a southern hemisphere style, but never settling on the players to deliver it.
Goodness gracious me. The first time the host nation has not escaped the pool season. A final match against Uruguay in Manchester to sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, this time as a mournful dirge.