England's 30-6 win was the largest margin of victory against Australia Richard Allport

England 30 – Australia 6. Better, much better. England’s biggest ever winning margin over the Wallabies, and a victory to ensure they will remain second in the world for the foreseeable future. It was by no means a perfect performance but, considering how last week went, it showed England are moving in the right direction.

In the first 10 minutes, I thought they looked class. They set the tempo fast, made destructive ball-carries, and showed some deft handling. The next hour was much tighter but, in the final 10, England’s classy touch showed again as they scored three tries in quick succession to put the game to bed, and add a fair amount of gloss to what had been a close encounter.

Overall, England defended very well – not conceding a try for the first time since they beat France to win the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016, and marshalling the threat of Kurtley Beale. They were also clinical in attack, converting most opportunities.

The game was not without controversy, however. Australia had two tries ruled out and two men sin-binned, leaving them with 13 players for the first three minutes of the second half. Both yellow cards were unquestionable. The first, to captain Michael Hooper, came after repeated infringements on their try-line, while Beale’s was for a deliberate knock-on which looked just that – deliberate.

The second ruled-out try was also the right call: though Koroibete grounded the ball, he ran into his own man, preventing England’s Chris Robshaw from making a proper tackle. However, Australia can feel rightly aggrieved about the first. Hooper – who grounded the ball – was in front of Kuridrani when he kicked the ball through, but was surely played back onside by the second kick from Koroibete.

“This was a much better Australia team to the one England beat 3-0 last summer and, but for some poor handling, the game could have been much closer”

Not everything went against them, though. Early on, Dan Cole had Scott Sio under pressure at the scrum, with the Australian’s arm repeatedly going to ground, but the referee gave nothing. Instead, he repeatedly awarded free-kicks and penalties against Vunipola for ‘pre-engaging’. Equally, in double sin-bin period, the score was 3-3, as England failed to capitalise, so Australia didn’t suffer.

One thing that did go against Australia, however, was the bounce of the ball. Each of England’s tries came from a ball that was kicked through, and each time it sat up nicely for the men in white. For Daly’s try, in particular, it seemed impossible that the ball managed to stay in-field, as the Wasp stole the ball from under his former teammate’s nose, much as Beale had against Wales seven days earlier. This is not to say that the tries were flukes. The speed, footballing and finishing skills of England’s backs were there for all to see. The best teams still win games even when things don’t go their way.

Nonetheless, this was a much better Australia team to the one England beat 3-0 last summer and, but for some poor handling, the game could have been much closer. Their defence is much improved and, as ever, their captain, Hooper, was everywhere. What a player. Had he chosen to play for the Red Rose, for whom he qualifies via his English father, England would have solved the No.7 debate a long time ago.

But if Hooper was talismanic, then Dylan Hartley was not far off. The Hartley vs George debate rumbles on but, at present, Hartley is doing very little wrong. This was the second game in a row where he played very well.

England's victory was not without controversy, with two tries ruled out for the Wallabiesrugby.com.au

Yet the greatest impact came from Owen Farrell. Restored to the 12 jersey, his presence made so much difference. Billy Vunipola commented that, against the Pumas, England weren’t showing enough “love” – the team was very quiet, and they weren’t cheering each other on. He remarked on how much of this is brought by Farrell and Maro Itoje, and he was bang on. Throughout the game, you could hear Farrell screaming in defence, whilst Maro cheered every small victory. On the Lions tour, Kiwi fans found this bizarre, but there is no doubt it lifts England.

Ben Youngs, too, was much nearer his best. I almost wonder if he read my article, because he did exactly what I asked, lifting the pace with several quick-tap penalties. It was also great to see England kicking to the corner instead of the posts – it really set the tone, and got the crowd going.

Joe Launchbury put in a man-of-the-match performance, adding some much-needed ball-carrying strength, and making 17 tackles. And, though it was a shame to see Underhill go off early with concussion after a bright start, Itoje was some replacement. The back-row of Lawes, Robshaw and Hughes, also played well, and might be a combination we see again.

In the backs, Jonathan Joseph was great in defence, and took his try very well, while the back-three looked electric when given space, and solid in the air; I hope they continue to get game-time. Meanwhile, at fly-half, George Ford didn’t have a great game, struggling to spark things – I think it’s time to see what England can do with Farrell at 10.

Looking ahead to this weekend, against Samoa, England need to find out how they get on when shorn of their usual leaders, and to test their depth. We found out how they coped without Farrell against Argentina, but here I’d rest Hartley, Itoje, Robshaw and Ford, who have played a lot already this season.

In the pack, the third-choice props should get some much-needed game-time, whilst Jamie George could start his first England game, and third-choice hooker Tom Dunn could win his first cap off the bench. For me, Charlie Ewels would get a game, to build on his good performances over the summer, and Simmonds – as third choice No.8 – needs a start. If Underhill recovers, he’ll go at seven and, if he doesn’t, Simmonds can play there with Hughes at 8 and Robshaw on the bench. 19-year-old Nick Isiekwe would be on my bench.

Behind the scrum, Danny Care deserves a start, and Henry Slade another chance to click in midfield, this time outside Farrell, who would be captain. I hope Watson continues at full-back and, I’d give Denny Solomona a go against the nation he represented in Rugby League. He’s been in form for Sale, but we need to know if he’s a viable option for England. Off the bench, I’d give Lozowski some time at 10, as probably the third-choice fly-half, whilst Daly could get a run-out at 13, on the wing, or even full-back.

Samoa will be no pushovers, as they showed against Scotland, but they did lose to Romania on Saturday. Against England, though, on the biggest of stages, they will want to play. Still, I think England will win by 30.

My England team to beat Samoa:

Starting XV: Watson, Solomona, Joseph, Slade, May, Farrell (c), Care (vc), Simmonds, Underhill, Lawes, Ewels, Launchbury (vc), Williams, George, Genge

Finishers: Dunn, Marler, Cole, Isiekwe, Hughes, Youngs, Lozowski, Daly

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