Josh Beaumont Column: England did well to hold their nerve - it sets them up nicely for Sydney


It was a much-improved performance by England in Brisbane and it should provide them with a blueprint to win the series in Sydney. I also focus on Ireland and Wales plus discuss the first week of pre-season back at Sale.

England's throwback helped them to second Test win

I'd say last weekend's victory was a bit more like England when Eddie first came in there. They were notorious for their fast starts and that massively helps going into a Test where we need to win, backs against the wall mentality but they came out firing.

It's like they got a new lease of life! Getting dominance at the set-piece helped and playing against 14 men as Australia's discipline wasn’t the best helps too! As I say, they were dominant in the set-piece, on top upfront and the win was probably built on the back of some strong defence and simplifying their attack a bit.

If you can also pick up penalties, it puts you in the right place on the pitch. I've played in a couple of games where after the first couple of scrums and lineouts, you're up against it and you're on the back foot for the rest of the game if you're not on top in that area. If you are, though, you can actually pick your penalties. You're just at peace and it puts you in the right place on the pitch.

Going back to Saturday, I think Gengey [Ellis Genge] set the tone early on with *that* carry and scoring early with that really good lineout drill also helped us. They were really impressive and to come back as well when Australia had a lot of momentum in that second half was great. I thought maybe they might throw it away, but they did really well to come back. 

What happened in the first Test may have been in the back of their minds, especially in these positions where they get these fast starts, but they ticked the scoreboard over pretty well, just taking the three points. To build up a two-score lead, it's hard for Australia to come back and a few older heads in the team probably helped with that. 

Having Owen Farrell back in, Courtney Lawes leading as well, he is probably a bit more relaxed now having that experience, having guys off the bench like Danny Care really helped too. It sets them up nicely for Sydney!

Can Ireland and New Zealand finish the job?

Let's start with Ireland. I've watched both games and they were probably unlucky in the first game, but New Zealand were extremely clinical and they just didn’t take their opportunities.

However, it probably switched around in the second Test as Ireland did eventually take their chances. New Zealand's confusion around the red card and Ardie Savea didn't help them, but Ireland kept their composure and capitalised on errors we are not used to seeing. It sets up a really intriguing final Test and should Ireland win it, it will give them confidence going into a World Cup year.

I've not actually seen too much of Wales' win, but obviously, there were a lot of chops and changes in the South African side probably because they wanted to get a look at some guys ahead of next year's World Cup. They’ve got that core of senior players who won it last time round so they are fully aware of how they can handle themselves on the international stage.

From the bits that I have watched, it all sets it up nicely for this weekend. Wales seem to be South Africa's bogie team for some reason. They set up well from a physicality point of view against the Boks so it will be an interesting game on Saturday.

I am surprised that they [South Africa] have not gone with Faf [de Klerk] at nine but I'm sure he will still have an impact off the bench. They probably will be a little bit too much for Wales in all honesty. It's been a long season for the Welsh, but you never know.

So far, they’ve been pretty attritional games. Both teams want to kick a lot and I spoke about the battle of the set-pieces earlier on and that’s where South Africa are built to get dominance so I'm sure they will go for Wales in that area.

Injury update and return to play with Sale

The rehab is going well, just ticking the boxes and then a pretty strict time plan for return to play. I had a couple of weeks off which was good to get out of the gym because it feels like I have been there for 12 months!

It's hard seeing all the pre-season games but the last one we have got is Treviso at home. My body is feeling good at this moment in time though, touch wood!

Everyone is back this week, timing it nicely with the increase in temperature! I don’t think, however, the lads appreciated that when doing the Bronco test on Tuesday.

The new boys are settling in well too. A few of the new guys obviously haven't been in like Jonny [Hill] but I have seen George [Ford] a couple of times. Tom [O'Flaherty] has got some mates in Sam Hill and Byron [McGuigan] from his Exeter days so he has fitted in well.

It's good to be back around the lads again. Obviously, every club is the same. There is a real buzz with that first couple of days of pre-season, but give it two or three weeks and the intensity of training may take it out of the lads!

There is a good feel around the place, lots of stuff to work on, on and off the pitch. I know Al [Alex Sanderson] has got a couple of things planned up his sleeve outside the training ground to get the lads closer together so we will wait and see on that!

On the pitch, we will need to improve on last year. We showed our potential towards the end of the year with that cup run in Europe and finishing the season off strongly. We cemented our place in Europe pretty comfortably in the end. Looking at it, we want to be top four every year and have obviously got quite a few things to improve on. Our consistency and putting in those performances week in and week out is something we can definitely improve on.

Josh’s latest column for Talking Rugby Union is brought to you by our partners STHUK!

Are you ready to hear the stadium roar at Rugby World Cup France 2023? STH UK can help you book your ultimate Rugby experience, as the exclusive Official Hospitality Sales Agent for Great Britain – and therefore the only place for fans from England, Scotland and Wales to purchase their ticket-inclusive hospitality packages officially.

Official Hospitality will be available across the ten host cities, in all nine venues, including the semi-finals and the final. An extensive programme of hospitality options are available to suit all needs, all featuring exquisite local cuisine and high-quality hospitality, with the French touch of elegance. Demand is high, with availability limited, so don’t miss out – book your place today HERE