Wallabies give Connolly winning start

The Wallabies gave new coach John Connolly an ideal start to his tenure, defeating England 34-3 in the opening match of their two-Test series at Sydney's Olympic stadium last night.

The home side scored three tries through Chris Latham, Mark Gerrard and debutant Rodney Blake, two of which were converted by Stirling Mortlock.

Mortlock also added five penalty goals.

England's points came via a penalty goal to Olly Barkley.

The result was another disappointment for English coach Andy Robinson, whose depleted side lost their last three Six Nations matches this year and are now just 16 months from beginning the defence of their world title.

Australia signalled its attacking intent in the first minute by throwing the ball along the backline just metres from their own line and the hosts generally had the better of the early exchanges.

Mortlock, prominent in most of Australia's early attacks, missed his first penalty attempt but was successful with two to give the Wallabies a 6-0 lead after 27 minutes.

England looked to have scored when full-back Iain Balshaw collected a grubber kick but a desperate covering tackle by Australian captain George Gregan caused sufficient doubt about the grounding for the effort to be disallowed by the video referee.

Barkley missed a simple penalty before Mortlock kicked his third on the stroke of half-time to put his side 9-0 ahead at the interval.

The sides traded penalties in the opening minutes of the second half before Latham's try on 55 minutes.

After English prop Julian White was penalised for taking down a scrum, Latham ran on to a short pass and burst through England's midfield before outstripping the cover defence to touch down under the posts.

Mortlock converted and Australia, led by Gregan making his record-equalling 119th Test appearance, were suddenly inspired as England wilted.

Replacement back Cameron Shepherd shredded the English defence with a searing run from deep in his own half and Gerrard was on hand to take the ball over the line.

The Wallabies then won possession in the right corner and the ball went through several pairs of hands to Blake, who barrelled his way over the line to the delight of the home fans.

The second and final Test of the series is in Melbourne next Saturday


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