Wallabies Outclassed, Outmuscled, Outplayed By England In Rugby World Cup
Too good. We were in it for about five minutes, but that was it.
But in the end, an English team coached by Australian supercoach Eddie Jones was far too good for the Wallabies, running out 40-16 winners in the Rugby World Cup quarter final in the southern Japanese city of Oita.
The first surprise was that the Wallabies started well. They kicked off deep, England lost possession, and the the men in gold then enjoyed 17 straight phases.
And you thought hmmmm, perhaps this is the calm, controlled match the Wallabies have had in them all tournament. And when the Wallabies went up 3-0, you thought, well, a try would've been nicer, but points are good. A lead is good.
And then England scored soon afterwards, and it was 7-3, and you went "ugh".
And then England scored again, a try as smart as it was brilliant, and the fan in you went "ugh", but the rugby lover in you had to go "wow".
Said try deserves description. The Wallabies were attacking, but England outside centre Henry Slade intercepted a short ball from David Pocock and sprinted downfield. Realising he was about to be tackled, Slade put through a perfect grubber for England winger Jonny May, and the noted speedster gathered, and scored his second in the corner.
Talking about perfection, England fly half Owen Farrell was deadly with the boot, landing both conversions from the sidelines. England 14-3.
Then a penalty to the Wallabies. England 14-6. Another penalty each. At the break it was 17-9.
After the break came the moment Australia needed. Marika Koroibete, you star! Another try for a player with number 11 on his back in this match.
But Australia's joy didn't last long. England hit back through tight head prop Kyle Sinckler. And the whole of Australia -- apologies in advance for this one -- got that Sinckling feeling.
Another couple of penalties to England, and the lead pushed out to 30-16. With 15 minutes to go, Australia's position was desperate. They simply had to score.
They didn't. But England did.
The Wallabies were good in patches in this match. The forwards were tough and held themselves well in the scrum, and Marika Koroibete was deadly out on the wing.
But the halves combination of Will Genia and Christian Lealiifano never quite clicked, as has been the case with all of Australia's halves combinations at RWC 2019. Indeed, a couple of mistakes from Will Genia in his 110th and final Test were costly.
This was not, in hindsight, a vintage Wallabies squad. Actually you can erase the word "hindsight" from the previous sentence, because it was obvious to anyone who followed the men in gold at Rugby World Cup 2019, that they were never quite up to the pace.
In fact, even hosts Japan were a lot better than them. And tonight, Engand were definitely better.
"They defended well and the better team won," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said after the match.
"We made a few mistakes at different times, but the guys have given everything and they're a credit to their country. I sort of don't have much else to say."
You might blame Michael Cheika -- who has probably run his race as coach after steering the Wallabies to the 2015 RWC final. You might also point the finger at the Israel Folau affair, which disrupted the team's preparations. Or maybe you could just blame our overall lack of rugby depth.
These are arguments for another day. For now, it's enough to say that this team never looked like it was going to win the tournament. And it didn't.
"We played an attacking style of rugby," Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper said, before also, like his coach, giving due credit to England.
"We're really upset we didn't get it. It's pretty gutting."
England advance to the semi finals, where they will play the winner of the quarter final clash between the All Blacks and Ireland.