England 40-16 Australia: Talking points from England's Rugby World Cup quarter-final victory
England will face New Zealand on Saturday October 26 (9am ko) for a place in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final
By Michael Cantillon in Oita
Last Updated: 21/10/19 5:26pm
We look at the major talking points after England secured a first Rugby World Cup semi-final since 2007 with an entertaining 40-16 win over Australia in Oita.
Here is what stood out after a landmark Test match performance in Japan's deep south...
The turnover game
If one element to this Test match was over-arching, it was the importance of turnovers and England's superiority in this facet.
The Wallabies, so famed for their back-row work and the abilities of the likes of David Pocock and Michael Hooper over the ball, were outshone in this regard, and it proved their undoing.
Flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill - England's own variation on Australia's dual openside-flanker threat - were the outstanding players on the pitch and produced moments of huge significance alongside other members of their forward pack.
Underhill made 20 tackles, while Curry made 16 and the pair combined to disrupt and turn over ball all game long.
Australia went 3-0 ahead before Underhill got England into the game from the restart as his statement tackle on the Wallabies' primary forward ball carrier, Isi Naisarani, cut the No 8 in half and knocked Australia back after their confident beginning.
Wallabies tighthead Allan Alaalatoa knocked on within his own 22 a phase later, from which England created two massive chances down the left: first, centre Henry Slade failed to make use of a four-on-two overload, before hooker Jamie George also failed to find May on an overlap moments later down the blindside. May would score the first try in the next attack.
As the first half drew to a close, England consolidated their lead as Curry ended eight phases of Australia attack in their half with a turnover on 32 minutes, before Curry and Underhill combined on 33 minutes: Curry with the huge hit, Underhill disrupting on the floor, to force a knock on and win the ball back again. It was suffocating the Wallabies.
On 49 minutes, George and Billy Vunipola combined to hold up Alaalatoa, force the unplayable maul and turn over the ball, before England won a resultant scrum penalty and kicked three more points.
For all Australia's time with the ball, it was getting pinched or stolen when it mattered.
The foremost example of this, and the most critical moment in the match, was on 61 minutes. Australia, having brought the game back to a point at the start of the second, were again in search of a try to bring the game back to a score. Australia captain Hooper twice turned down routine shots at goal for attacking set-pieces: kicking to touch for a lineout on 55 minutes and calling a five-metre scrum on 57 minutes.
But it all proved futile when Sinckler ripped back possession from Naisarani metres from his own try-line after nine phases, earning possession back for England, before Will Genia knocked on at the very next ruck near halfway following England's clearance kick.
Were Australia to have scored then - as they looked likely to do - the game would have been back to four points and the Wallabies' tails perking up. As it was, they were immensely deflated and from that moment on, there was no way back. Turnovers were the key.
Indeed, were it not for their supreme knack of forcing pivotal turnovers in the Test, and the clinical nature with which they took their tries, England would have been in a bit of trouble - at least that is what the stats point to.
Despite the dominant scoreline - not a wholly fair reflection of the quarter-final in all truth - on paper, England were second best in nearly all relevant areas.
On the face of it therefore, it was a slightly strange contest. Australia dominated possession (64 per cent), territory (55 per cent) gained far more metres in attack (568m to England's 274m), made more than double the carries (151 to 71), had more gain-line success (57 to 36), conceded less penalties (five to England's eight) and missed less tackles (12 to England's 21).
As mentioned above, though, England turned over ball in critical areas at crucial moments and also forced 12 Australia handling errors.
Head coach Jones spent the vast majority of the England warm-up standing and watching Australia intensely, virtually ignoring his own players. It was a focus and mode his side took onto the pitch.
The caveat to such a performance, is that England will know if they are to give up as much possession to the All Blacks, they will almost certainly get beaten in the last four.
Give New Zealand that spell of time on the ball, that opportunity to gain metres and create line-breaks and defeat is a near-inevitability. A different performance: less defensive and more possession protective is surely required.
England's remarkable turnaround; Cheika's exit call?
It never ceases to amaze how much can change in a year within sport. This time last year, Jones' England were off the back of a dreadful Six Nations campaign during which they had been swept aside by Scotland in Edinburgh, France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham.
They embarked on a summer series to South Africa where they were soundly dispatched in the first two Tests to go 2-0 down, before claiming the third to lose 2-1.
And even in November of last year, England claimed a scarcely-deserved victory over South Africa at Twickenham after being thoroughly outplayed.
In each of those they looked anything but World Cup contenders. Yet, roll into 2019, shake things up a bit in terms of team selection (George, Curry, Slade all in) and gain some key players back from injury (Underhill, Tuilagi, Billy Vunipola, Watson) - England now look like the real thing.
It all started in February of this year, when they went to Dublin and beat Ireland - then defending Grand Slam champions and off the back of beating New Zealand in the autumn - playing some magnificent rugby.
England came into the World Cup in confident vain, and now could not be more confident after brushing Australia aside.
At the other end of things, the defeat presumably means the end of Michael Cheika's colourful five-year Australia tenure. They may have shown World Cup promise, but ultimately lost their two important games: to Wales in Pool D and England in the quarter-finals.
They end 2019 with four losses from 10 Tests (four of those six victories coming against Argentina, Uruguay, Fiji and Samoa), while Australia's 2018 campaign was their worst since Cheika took over in October 2014, as they won just four from 13 Tests.
Previous full campaigns under Cheika had yielded just two losses and 10 wins in 2015, six victories in 2016 and seven wins in 2017. They have not improved under the combustible and under-fire Aussie.