Rennie hails Wallabies character after England jinx broken

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said smart leadership, character a and a nerveless performance from stand-in flyhalf Noah Lolesio were behind 14-man Australia’s victory over England in the first of three July tests on Saturday.

The win was a significant breakthrough for the Wallabies, who had failed to beat England in eight matches since Eddie Jones took over as coach, including a 3-0 home series loss in 2016 and a humbling quarter-final defeat at the last World Cup.

It was all the more impressive as it came after Quade Cooper was ruled out with a calf strain picked up in the warm- up, a serious injury to fullback Tom Banks in the 21st minute, and the red card shown to lock Darcy Swain after 34 minutes.

“I thought the boys did some fantastic problem-solving out on the park and to get our nose in front by 16 (points) late in the piece was impressive,” Rennie said.

“We’ve been in this position before. The great thing about our group is there’s no panic, we’ve got some great leaders out there.”

Rennie had particular praise for Lolesio, who stepped in for Cooper at the last minute and was perfect from the kicking tee with three penalties and three conversions.

“He was fantastic tonight,” Rennie said. “He did not seem that concerned about the opportunity to start and his ability to kick goals under pressure we’ve seen over the last couple of years.”

Rennie was not alone in thinking that Australia, who ran in three tries in the last quarter, played their best rugby after Swain was dismissed.

“We were pretty disappointing around the collision area but it was a lot better in the second half and we played with a lot of character,” he said.

“It was disappointing in the last couple of minutes. Outside of that, pretty comprehensive second half.”

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