Australia has finished Day Two in Hong Kong undefeated on top of Pool A with a gripping 12-10 win over arch rivals England.
In what was a tightly fought contest from beginning to end, it was anyone’s game until the final siren.
On the scoreboard it was the Henry Hutchison and Tom Bowen show with each getting two tries and proving the difference in the end, as is often the case, was the crucial kick for conversion.
James Stannard hit the target from out wide after Australia’s second try - the only successful conversion from all four attempts in the game.
It took over five minutes for the first try by Hutchison and within that time the defence was tight and the tackling was hard.
At one point, young Lachie Anderson hoisted big Phil Burgess over the touch line in what was labelled a text book tackle.
A yellow card to the England captain Tom Mitchell in the first half did not help their cause as Hutchison immediately capitalised with the Aussies’ first try.
Bowen’s reply on the half time siren had the game poised at 5-5.
The calibre of the two teams was evident in the quality of the contest and it took until two minutes into the second half before Hutchison out-manoeuvred Dan Norton to dot the ball down in the corner.
Bowen again counter punched with his second but with Dan Bibby missing the conversion Australia was in the box seat with two minutes to go and a two point lead.
A penalty awarded to the Aussies after the siren sounded was music to their ears.
Topping Pool A means Australia will play Argentina which placed second in Pool D after a 33-5 loss against the USA in its final match.
Coach Andy Friend was pleased with the quality in his team’s play.
“I thought it was a great game of Rugby when we beat England. For our blokes to hold on and get that win, showed a lot of character and it’s really good for their momentum and confidence,” he said.
For Friend though it is that one game further that is the true test for the Aussies at this stage.
“Making the Quarter Finals counts for nothing unless we can back it up again tomorrow. We’ll make sure we are prepped and rested for that match and we’ll be firing to go.”
Henry Hutchison was also excited by what the team had produced in that final game.
“We are a young side and we have been slowly building and to knock off England is going to do great things for us,” he said.
“The boys are really mixing well. We’re out here to have fun and we are enjoying each other’s company. We have some solid game plans and we are executing it.”
The USA and South Africa have joined Australia in being the only undefeated teams of the Pool round.
The shock of the day came from the Welsh who held reigning champions Fiji to a 17-17 draw in their second Pool C game.
Fiji later defeated New Zealand to still top the group ahead of their Oceania neighbours.
South Africa was tested in its final game of the day against Canada but went up a gear in the second half to secure a solid 26-7 win.
The USA saved its best for last as it powered past Argentina 33-5 to secure top spot in Pool D having only had modest victories against the lesser performing teams in its group.
What’s in store on Day Three?
The quarter finalists are Australia, England, South Africa, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, USA and Argentina.
The Aussies will face Argentina full of confidence in the first Cup Quarter-Final at 12.58pm AEST
Day three LIVE on FOX SPORTS ONE Ch501 from 11:20am - 4.00pm AEST and LIVE from 5.55pm - 9.30pm AEST
How the day began
Australia began the day with a 52-0 domination of South Korea in its second game of the pool round.
The eight try victory saw Australia have no less than five scorers – with a double to veteran James Stannard and an impressive treble to Lachie Anderson, replicating his form from Las Vegas.
Australia’s tackling strength was significant and Korea had difficulty getting and retaining possession.
The first half became the Lachie Anderson show as he racked up the first try within the first 30 seconds of the game with two more to follow giving Australia a 19-0 lead at the break.
The second half continued in the same vein as the Aussies added 33 points to the first half score with tries from captain Tom Lucas, Nick Malouf, Simon Kennewell and James Stannard who grabbed the opportunity to run the ball in twice – the first of which saw the veteran sprint more than 30 metres to the posts as he out-ran the opposition.
It was a performance that inspired confidence for the young team in preparation for the battle to follow against old foe England.