Beating the bully boys 30-28 from England is a huge victory for the Wallabies because of the character it showed to not just fight hard but attack with 14 men.
The pumping atmosphere inside Perth’s Optus Stadium was akin to that magic night in 2019 when the All Blacks were thrashed 47-26.
There were heroes aplenty from debutant forwards Dave Porecki and Cadeyrn Neville to young flyhalf Noah Lolesio being rushed into the starting line-up with just a few minutes notice.
Snapping the 8-0 losing streak against England in this style is something every Wallabies’ fan can get around as well as those fair weather followers waiting to see a real change for the Wallabies. They got it with the attitude shown all night.
What did we learn?
1 QUADE COOPER SHOCK
Losing Quade Cooper in the warm-ups with a calf niggle was a huge blow for the Wallabies. It instantly ripped a lot of the subtlety out of the Australian attack. By contrast, the English got some nice pay sliding Owen Farrell into first receiver and using flyhalf Marcus Smith out the back. The Wallabies adjusted.
Those with long memories will recall Wendell Sailor pulling out in the warm-ups of the 2004 Test against England in Brisbane. Clyde Rathbone was the accidental hero with three tries that night.
Lolesio was at his best late in the game when it really mattered.
2 SWAIN SUCKERED
The English forwards were always going to niggle and try to put the Wallabies off their game. Jonny Hill’s hair grab in a maul was dishonourable but Swain should have left his retaliation at a headlock and shove.
He was baited, sure, but his decision to lead with the head was dumb.
We complain endlessly about red cards for accidental head clashes. It’s hard to mount a case to spare him when this head-on-head clash was deliberate.
The head butt, mild as it was, was really poor discipline because he actually paused, thought about a reaction and went on with it anyway.
His penalty will be a suspension for the rest of the series.
3 DEBUTANT DAVE
It’s hard to remember a Wallabies hooker making a Test debut as impressive as Dave Porecki.
He nailed his first five lineout throws including a long one to Samu Kerevi beyond the lineout. The gold scrum was solid, he grabbed a steal at the breakdown, his ball-carries were sure and he absolutely looked to have the poise for the highest level.
His one lineout blip was a poach by England when main lineout target Swain was off the field.
Replacement Folau Fainga’a has really found a surge of form with the Brumbies and now the Wallabies. He’s making second efforts. His rolling maul drive for a try needs to be celebrated but just as important was his jolting tackle defending his own tryline just minutes later.
4 KOROIBETE AND KEREVI ESSENTIAL
Winger Marika Koroibete is all class.
When England went ahead 14-9 at the hour mark, things could have tilted to the tourists.
It needed a play and Koroibete soaring to claim the kick-off was the moment that ignited the Jordan Petaia try.
Koroibete’s early trysaving tackle was superb.
Centre Kerevi’s direct running really took it to England. There weren’t any linebreaks but he forced the English to tackle and tackle.
There were plenty of other key contributors. Winger-fullback Andrew Kellaway caught high balls, was cool and straightened-and-passed to Petaia for the key try.
5 THE PHYSICAL BATTLE
The Wallabies talked pre-match about really throwing physicality at this Test and they did throughout.
There were key breakdown steals like Michael Hooper’s on his own tryline, the maul stepped up for a clutch try and replacement lock Matt Philip was reflective of the big punch from the bench.
Backrowers Rob Leota and Rob Valetini really stepped up in the second 20 minutes.
It was a night to celebrate.