Melbourne shutout was England’s ‘sliding doors’ moment

4:31 PM GMT

If England beat Australia on Saturday and complete the year unbeaten, then holding out the Wallabies for 22 phases in Melbourne will be their Sliding Doors moment, according to George Kruis.

Having won the first Test in Brisbane, England were 10-7 ahead with the clock ticking towards half time when Billy Vunipola prematurely kicked the ball in touch. The Wallabies had another shot at attempting to breach England’s tryline and 22 relentless phases followed only for Australia to eventually knock the ball on.

Vunipola’s error and the astonishing defensive effort that followed ended up being a defining moment for England this year.

“We look back and discuss memories of Australia, and that was a game-changing moment for us,” Kruis said. “You get patches when you are building a team and you get to understand what each other are all about.

“We managed to hold them out that long on your goal line, it just shows the culture behind it and everything comes into play in those dark few minutes.

“It stood there in a lot of people’s minds as a together moment. The best teams make a mistake and then solve it a minute later; it just took us about six. It was definitely a defining moment.”

Kruis is hoping Saturday’s match will be another defining moment for this crop as they chase an elusive 80-minute performance.

It’s been a player-led pursuit for rugby perfection but he is anticipating Australia to be fired up as they look to bring an end to England’s winning run; a burning desire fuelled by the war of words which has been a subplot to Anglo-Australian rugby relations this year and England’s clean sweep in June.

“I think they are probably left with a bit of a bitter taste from the summer and I think it will be flying,” Kruis said. “It is one of their last games so they will leave everything out there. We know we have to front up and finish the job.”

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