That’s what they were calling the commons debate that took place today to decide whether the latest Brexit deal to have been negotiated will pass the UK parliament. Personally, I think knocking Australia out of a 2nd World Cup in the last 3 months is much closer to the definition of a "Super Saturday"....
But while our politicians have struggled to get a deal across the line, the English rugby team found no such difficulties as they ran over 4 tries to crush the Aussies 40-16 and set up a semifinal with the reigning champions, the All Backs.
Despite the comfortable margin of victory, the game at least for the first 50mins was much tighter than the final score suggests. Australia started at a fast pace with their talented backline putting England’s defence under immediate pressure. However, the men in white resisted and while Australia did draw first blood they would have hoped that their endeavours would have resulted in more than just the 3 points that they secured from the kicking tee.
By contrast, while England spent significantly less time with ball in hand they were far more clinical when they did get the chance to attack. England’s first score came about as a result of their midfield power with the Aussie defence sucked too narrow as they sort to negate the threat of Tuilagi and Vunipola. The whole nation sat watching the came in their pyjamas on a bright Saturday morning would have been screaming for England to play the ball wide and they duly did to allow Jonny May a routine score in the corner.
Australia continued to have the lions share of possession and it was from a Wallabies handling error that May was allowed to add his 2nd try of the game in this his 50th Test Match. Henry Slade, somewhat controversially brought into the 15 at the expense of George North, was on hand to intercept some sloppy passing from the Aussies and while he didn't have the legs to finish the score himself he had the presence of mind and footballing talent to chip ahead for May to outpace the retreating defenders.
Penalties were traded for the remainder of the half with the score at 17-9 after 40 mins. 8 points probably flattered England at the break but Australia went about making it a 1 point game with another lightning-fast start to the 2nd half. The muscular and pacey Koroibete was a constant threat to the English try line and he crashed over to silence the England fans and give the impression that this game was going to be a tight finish.
However, England responded almost immediately to restore their 8 point lead with prop Kyle Sinckler going over for his first international try. The moment will be all the sweeter for Sinckler who earlier in the match had been the subject of some fairly predictable taunting from the Aussie front row as they sort to test the England forward's famously short temper. With Farrell adding the conversion and then a penalty, England had an 11 point lead.
The response from Australia was predictable as they piled forward looking to get the crucial next score that would have kept the contest alive. England's defence and in particular Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes and Sam Underhill soaked up hit after hit after hit to repel the tide of golden shirts that swept in. When England finally did get the ball away and then won a penalty on the halfway line they celebrated the feat as if they had scored themselves such was the manner of their backs to the walls effort. Similarly, When Owen Farrell slotted over 2 more penalties to extend the lead to 17 points the England players knew that they were home and hosed.
The icing on the cake came as a desperate Australian side sort to run the ball from their own half to present Anthony Watson with an interception try that was deserved given his fine performance in the match. Hitting 40 points against Australia in any match is a massive achievement but to do so in a knockout game at the World Cup is something pretty special.
Ultimately England out-thought an Australian side that while entertaining in attack lacked any real penetration upfront. England were happy to drop off and not commit too many men at the break down as Australia looked for runners from their 3/4s time and time again. In many ways, this match reminds me of the infamous "rope a dope" tactic employed by the great Muhammed Ali against George Foreman in 1974. England were happy to let the Aussies continue to swing and while they landed a couple of punches in the earlier parts of the game it became apparent as the match continued that the efforts from the Southern Hemisphere side had taken a far greater toll on their energy reserves than they had the English.
As the Aussies became tired and desperate so their handling became increasingly poor with England happy to take the opportunities as they came. It was a clinical display from a side that will have to find yet another level if they are to beat the Kiwis following their mauling of the Irish.