OITA, 19 Oct - Eddie Jones praised fly-half Owen Farrell after the England captain kicked 20 points to guide his side to their first Rugby World Cup semi-final for 12 years and leave Australia beaten and bemused in Oita.
All the significant match statistics were in Australia's favour except the numbers on the scoreboard. But the 40-16 result took Eddie Jones's record to 7-0 against opposite number Michael Cheika as he became the first head coach to beat his native country in the Rugby World Cup, with 12 previous attempts having failed.
Having alluded to samurai warriors in his talk leading to match day, Jones warmed to the theme in victory.
"The best samurai were always the guys who had a plan but could adapt, had a calm head but were full of aggression, and we were like that today," he said.
"The challenge is how we get better because there is always a better samurai around the corner."
Leading his army of deadly combatants was the implacable Farrell, who endured a kicking nightmare in the pool-stage win over Argentina but never looked like missing any of his eight kicks in this match, including two touchline conversions.
Farrell was a focal point for his team in both defence and attack, and Jones said: "We made a couple of mistakes to let them back into the game but I was impressed by the ability of my team to refocus.
"It was a great job by Owen as captain."
While England were able to enjoy a defensive job well done, it was a bitter experience for a clearly emotional Cheika. Having failed to deliver the win, questions were raised immediately about his future as head coach.
"I will be honest," he said, "it is a cruel, cruel world nowadays when you are asking that question two minutes after we've been knocked out of the World Cup.
"And if you find it inside you, to find a little bit of compassion for people who are hurting, to just ask the more relevant questions, because I will tell you, I came here with only one thought in my mind about winning here and that thought has just disappeared now."
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admitted he was "gutted", particularly for those players who will not get another chance to play in a World Cup after a match that Australia dominated in almost every area yet finished well beaten.
England scored four tries to supplement Farrell's brilliant kicking, which equalled his best return in a World Cup match, and the victory was built on a defensive action through which Australia conceded 18 turnovers and made 12 handling errors.
"The good news for us is we can still improve"@EnglandRugby coach Eddie Jones thinks his side can still improve after their 40-16 victory over Australia in the #RWC2019 quarter-finals.#ENGvAUS #RWCOita pic.twitter.com/0Lg1sQ7kkS— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 19, 2019
The Wallabies buckled under the pressure of the white wave that kept crashing into them, and the relentless nature of the assault would have brought a wide smile to John Mitchell, their defence coach.
Jones was jumping up and down in his seat with delight as the England pack turned the screw in the final quarter and his replacements made telling contributions.
When the celebrations have ended, the coach will take a long look at the performance, knowing England cannot afford to come second, as they did against Australia, in carries (151 to 71), possession (64 per cent to 36 per cent), and defenders beaten (21 to 12), when they play their semi-final in Yokohama in a week's time.
Player of the Match Tom Curry, pictured above centre celebrating with his team-mates, and back-row partner Sam Underhill put in a combined 36 tackles to eclipse their much-vaunted opposite numbers Hooper and David Pocock, who now retires from international rugby after a marvellous career.
England prop Kyle Sinckler, whose mother had travelled to watch the biggest game of her son's career, cantered over for his first test try and also won a scrum penalty that allowed Farrell to do what he does best – keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The final score was in stark contrast to the way the first half had developed, Australia dominating the early play with the kind of ball control and option-taking that would too often desert them as the game opened up.
It was England who were back-pedalling in the opening minutes, as the Wallabies called the tactical tune, but all Australia had to show for their possession was a single Christian Lealiifano penalty.
Like a clever boxer having taken punishment while on the ropes, England counter-punched with a Jonny May one-two that left the Wallabies wondering how they had ended up conceding two tries to the fleet-footed Leicester winger, with Farrell kicking two touchline conversions adding to their angst.
Lealiifano kicked three penalties in that first half and the Wallabies would later pay a heavy price for not following Farrell's lead in accepting simple kicks at goal.
It was a tactic made even harder to understand as they had battled back into the match with an excellent Marika Koroibete try. England kept on taking their chances, and that Sinckler try, from a wonderful long pass from Farrell, put the 2003 champions six points ahead.
Hooper twice turned down simple penalty kicks to try to regain the initiative and it backfired spectacularly as Farrell punished yet more Australia errors, and when Anthony Watson intercepted a long floated pass deep in Australia's half to register England's fourth try the game was finally settled.