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Wallabies overcome red card, injuries to beat England 30-28

·3-min read

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A 14-man Australia also endured a swath of injuries to beat England 30-28 in the series-opening test in Perth on Saturday.

The Wallabies were forced to play a man down for more than half the match after lock Darcy Swain was sent off for headbutting opposite Jonny Hill in retaliation. But Australia scored three second-half tries to lead 30-14 and could afford to concede two late England tries in front of 47,668 spectators.

They hadn't beaten England since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and lost eight straight to the visitors, including all three on the previous tour in 2016.

England coach Eddie Jones thought Swain's dismissal by referee James Doleman unintentionally helped Australia.

“You look at the history of the game, whenever you get a red card the referee evens it up. He helps the team with the red card,” Jones said. “It’s social reciprocity, it happens, that’s normal and we’ve got to be good enough to handle it. They’re nice blokes, referees."

The loss will pile more pressure on Jones, whose England has lost four of six tests this year, and not counting a humiliating loss to a 14-man Barbarians side at Twickenham last month.

Australia was hard-hit by injuries even before kickoff. Flyhalf Quade Cooper strained his left calf in the warmup. Noah Lolesio started and James O'Çonnor was pulled out of a corporate function to put on kit to be a reserve.

In the middle of the first half, fullback Tom Banks apparently sustained a broken arm, tighthead prop Allan Ala'alatoa walked for a head injury assessment, and Swain was sent off in the 34th. Swain likely miss the remainder of the series in Brisbane and Sydney over the next two weekends.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie refused to be drawn on whether England deliberately set out to target Swain on the basis of repeated provocation from Hill, who started the fracas by pulling his hair.

“I’m not sure if it was a team plan, but there was certainly provocation there. Not just in that situation but also earlier in the game,” Rennie said. “We’ll have a decent look at the footage and work out how we’re going to appeal that. We’ll be seeking clarity around (the red card).

“We train with the scenario of playing with 14 or 13 players all the time. What we know is that we just have to work harder. We found a way. We’re absolutely rapt with the character.”

Lolesio’s kicking proved decisive for Australia, with the youngster booting three penalties to keep Australia in touch with England, and converting all three tries to put them out of England's reach.

England shaded a first half that finished 6-6. Prop Ellis Genge scored a maul try and Owen Farrell kicked a third penalty to put England 14-9 up.

But Australia went back in front immediately with a converted try by replacement back Jordan Petaia. While England's Billy Vunipola was in the sin-bin, Folau Fainga'a scored the Wallabies' second try. Australia sealed victory in the 77th with Pete Samu's try.

England debutants Henry Arundell and Jack van Poortvliet crossed late.

Australia captain Michael Hooper said his side improvised well.

“We came up with a lot of solutions, so I'm proud of the effort despite a lot of changes at the last minute," Hooper said. “You can’t script that stuff. You can have all those plans and then they go out the window. Our coaching staff did a great job of managing the game."

___

More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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