Bernard Foley shattered England’s World Cup dream on Saturday as Australia triumphed 33-13 to make England the first tournament hosts to drop out in the first round.
Foley scored two brilliant tries and kicked 18 points on a historic night when Australia outclassed their rivals before a packed Twickenham crowd of 81,080.
Australia and Wales are now guaranteed the top two places in Pool A, and tickets to the quarter-finals. They play next Saturday to decide the top dogs in the pool.
Australia coach Michael Cheika punched the air with delight as the final whistle went. His England counterpart Stuart Lancaster cast a forlorn figure, his future now in doubt after losses to Wales and now the Wallabies.
Lancaster and Robshaw quickly apologised to the expectant nation.
“We feel we let the country down today. As players we didn’t quite get there. We apologise to them. Australia played very well – but we’re gutted,” Robshaw told ITV.
“We’re gutted. And gutted for all the fans and everyone at home. Everyone put so much effort in but we’re sorry we let everyone down,” added Lancaster.
England were all but out of the World Cup by half-time.
– Australia masterclass –
Foley scored a try after 20 minutes and Australia, the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship holders, led 17-3 at half time as they imposed their class.
England fought back after the break but left themselves too much to do.
England stuck with goalkicking fly-half Farrell and recalled Jonathan Joseph after the centre missed the Wales match with a chest injury.
Australia may have lost their last two Tests against England but Cheika chose his strongest side with a back-line of Israel Folau and Matt Giteau and a pack including turnover specialists David Pocock and Michael Hooper.
Foley’s well-judged grubber kick was taken into touch by Mike Brown to set up an Australia attacking line-out five metres from the England line.
Australia won possession but Brown’s thumping tackle on opposing full-back Folau prevented a try.
The Wallabies continued to play the game deep inside England’s 22 and went ahead when Foley kicked a seventh-minute penalty for offside awarded by French referee Romain Poite.
Joseph showed his class with a rare break which in turn led to a scrum from which Farrell kicked a penalty to make it 3-3.
But Australia then scored 17 unanswered points, despite wing Rob Horne going off with an arm injury.
Foley scored the opening try when, following a sustained spell of Australia possession, England’s defence cracked after the stand-off sold a dummy from 10 metres out.
He converted his own score and Australia led 10-3.
There was no denying England’s commitment but they were struggling to win quick ball as Pocock, well supported by Hooper and Scott Fardy, bossed the breakdown.
Australia then won a penalty off a scrum — England’s supposed area of strength.
This led to a second Australia try in the 35th minute when, after a line-out win, Foley’s well-weighted inside ball to Kurtley Beale was returned to the No 10 and he went over.
Wales had three times come from 10 points down to beat England last week but overturning a 14-point gap against the Wallabies in 40 minutes would have been an unprecedented feat.
It was not made easier when England started the second half without wing Jonny May. Replacement George Ford came on in his favoured fly-half position, with Farrell moving into the centres.
Wallaby prop Scott Sio won a scrum penalty on the edge of England’s 22 which Foley kicked to make it 20-3.
England had a lifeline in the 55th minute when wing Anthony Watson, after a fine pass by Ford, reached out out for a try greeted by a huge roar from a crowd of over 81,000.
Farrell landed the awkward conversion and, with 15 minutes left, his penalty cut Australia’s lead to 20-13.
England’s glimmer of hope disappeared when they had to play the final nine minutes a man down after Farrell was sin-binned for a ‘no-arm’ tackle on Matt Giteau.
What should have been an England line-out inside Australia’s 22 became a Wallaby penalty 25 metres in front of their own posts. Foley kicked the chance to restore Australia’s 10-point lead at 23-13.
Another scrum penalty and another succesful goal-kick by Foley hammered the nail into England’s World Cup coffin. Matt Giteau scored the third try in the dying seconds with Foley appropriately adding a last magisterial kick.