LONDON – Bernard Foley orchestrated England’s demise at the Rugby World Cup with his finest performance in a Wallabies jersey, scoring all but five of Australia’s points in a 33-13 win Saturday that ensured the host team will exit the tournament after the pool stage.
After narrowly losing to Wales last weekend, England needed to beat two-time champion Australia to maintain a chance of progressing out of Pool A, the most difficult group in the draw.
“Absolutely gutted to be going out of the World Cup. Words can’t express how disappointed we are,” England coach Stuart Lancaster said. “We feel we let down our fantastic supporters. It was a tough pool and in hindsight we put ourselves in a bad position losing last week.”
The Australians exploited the pressure England was under in the must-win match, starting at a fast, physical pace.
“We knew there’d be a lot of pain — we’re in England’s backyard. The atmosphere was outrageously loud, that’s not an easy thing to deal with,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said. “We just wanted to get into it — you have not only got to keep your opponents out of the game, you have to keep the crowd out of the game.”
It started badly for England, with flyhalf Foley crossing for sniping tries in the 20th and 35th minutes, converting them both and adding a penalty to give the Wallabies a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Foley extended the lead to 17 points with a penalty goal soon after the break, before winger Anthony Watson triggered an English resurgence by beating two defenders to score a strong try in the right corner in the 56th. Owen Farrell converted and added a penalty goal to cut the gap to 20-13 but his yellow card in the 71st for a shoulder charge on Matt Giteau left England a man short at the end.
Foley landed two more penalties and converted Giteau’s last-minute try from the sideline to finish with a personal haul of 28 points.
“Myself and the players feel like we have let the country down today,” England captain Chris Robshaw said.