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By Mitch Phillips
LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Australia gave error-strewn England a lesson in rugby basics on Saturday as assured flyhalf Matt Giteau kicked 20 points to help them to a 28-14 victory at Twickenham.
The flyhalf landed six penalties and converted Adam Ashley-Cooper’s late try while captain Stirling Mortlock weighed in with a 50-metre penalty.
That shot came after England had been shoved backwards in a scrum - the area they were expected to dominate but which was littered with re-sets, free kicks and penalties and eventually went the Wallabies’ way.
“I don’t know what goes on in there but the forwards really stood up today,” Giteau told Sky Sports.
England had plenty of ball but were too often static and crossed the line only once when number eight Nick Easter finished off a forward shove late in the first half.
“They’ve won away by 14 points but ultimately we let them off far too often, we took the pressure off them with our errors,” England manager Martin Johnson said.
Australia were switched on from the start while England’s ragged play allowed Giteau to notch two early penalties.
The flyhalf showed his defensive talents when he hauled down Mears in the corner after a sharp Danny Cipriani break, then slotted another two kicks to make it 12-3 after half an hour as England’s indiscipline was heavily punished.
England scraped onto the scoreboard with an unexpected drop goal from fullback Delon Armitage but they were finding Australia’s well-drilled defence a much harder nut to crack than the scratch collection of the Pacific Islanders last week.
They eventually got their forwards into the action with a drive after 34 minutes, though they fell foul of the video referee when Andrew Sheridan thought he had driven over.
Moments later they did score when they pounded the line for two minutes before Easter forced his way through.
Cipriani, who was badly off beam with his first two goalkicks, eventually slotted one and there was a point in it at 12-11 to the visitors at halftime after Giteau missed from wide out after another daft offence by the home side.
England briefly nosed in front with a Cipriani penalty four minutes into the second half but despite enjoying plenty of possession in the Australian half, they rarely looked dangerous.
More errors allowed Giteau to restore the lead and Mortlock landed his long pot after Sheridan, who struggled all day, was penalised at a scrum.
Australia then cut loose from deep to score the match-clinching try. England, ragged in defence, were stretched when quick passing set up fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper to dive over in the corner.
“The stats are there in terms of posssesion and territory but we didn’t score the points - we got a bit frantic,” Johnson said.
“They didn’t have to do a lot to score, they didn’t break us particularly. We made breaks and made the errors afterwards.
“When you are in test rugby you may only have three or four opportunities to score a try and you’ve got to take one or two of them. Ultimately we let them off far too often.”
England face South Africa in a rematch of last year’s World Cup final next week while Australia visit France.
Editing by Padraic Halpin