England into World Cup semi-finals after hammering Australia

Tom Homewood
Assistant Producer

England booked their place in the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 12 years with a thumping 40-16 win over Australia in Japan.

Jonny May, making his 50th appearance for England, scored twice in two minutes as Eddie Jones’ side led 17-9 going into the break.

Australia responded brilliantly and got back to within a point after Marika Koroibete run in after the restart, but England hit back instantly as prop Kyle Sinckler crashed over.

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Anthony Watson added one late on as Australia were trying to get the ball out wide to Koroibete once more, but the right wing intercepted and finished easily.

England captain Owen Farrell was flawless from the tee making 20 points as he made all eight of his kicks, while the 40-16 victory equalled their record winning margin against Australia.

Next up will be either Ireland or New Zealand for a place in the final.

Kyle Sinckler crashes over (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones made three changes for their clash with Australia in Oita.

Centre Henry Slade and prop Mako Vunipola both made their first starts since last season's Six Nations, while lock Courtney Lawes took over from George Kruis.

In a positional switch, captain Owen Farrell moved to fly-half instead of George Ford.

Australia boss Michael Cheika handed a start to 19-year-old centre Jordan Petaia as the Wallabies looked to repeat their victory over England in the 2015 World Cup.

After a lively start, the Aussies deservedly went 3-0 up after a Christian Lealiifano penalty right in front of the posts.

Jonny May, on his 50th cap, hit back for England in the 18th minute and he won’t have scored many easier tries in his previous 49 Tests as he sauntered into the corner.

The hard work had been done on the right wing with some fine footwork from Anthony Watson. The ball found its way to Tom Curry on the left who set May up for the first try of the match.

Farrell converted from a tight angle to make it 7-3.

Jonny May scores the opening try of the match (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Two minutes later and May was over the line again. David Pocock’s a no-look pass to Christian Lealiifano was picked up brilliantly by Slade who then set off.

Aware he didn’t have the pace to do it himself, he picked out May with a perfectly weighted kick before the 29-year-old slid in for his second of the game. Farrell added a further two points with an almost identical conversion.

Australia wasted no time in trying to make a comeback as Lealiifano’s penalty made it 14-6 within five minutes of England’s second score.

After an uncertain opening, England had settled into the game impressively, holding an edge up front and starting to dominate the close-quarter collisions.

A further penalty apiece, Australia’s on the stroke of half-time, meant the teams went in at 17-9 at the break.

Koroibete crosses to score Australia's only try (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Australia started the second half much like they did the first and were over the line for the first time themselves inside three minutes.

Reece Hodge saw Slade rush out of defence and floated the ball over the top. Jordan Petaia found Marika Koroibete inside. He stood up Elliot Daly and put his foot down to find the corner.

Lealiifano made it four kicks from four from the conversion and Australia reduced the deficit to one at 17-16.

Once again Jones’ men hit back almost immediately, but this time it was an unlikely source. Farrell’s bullet pass was picked up by prop Kyle Sinckler who found himself through the Australian defence and he crashed over the line.

Farrell converted and then added further three penalties making it seven kicks from seven as England extended their lead to 33-16.

Anthony Watson added one late on as Beale was trying to get the ball out wide to Koroibete once again, but the right wing intercepted and finished easily. Farrell added the extra points as the match finished 40-16.

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