Courtney Lawes saluted the fighting spirit that enabled England to withstand another Australia fightback and secure a series-clinching 21-17 victory in Sydney.
Mirroring the second Test, England built a 21-10 lead through tries by Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith but then had to show resolve to weather a final-quarter assault from the Wallabies.
Lawes and Luke Cowan-Dickie combined to claim the crucial turnover that relieved the pressure as Eddie Jones masterminded a second series victory over the team he coached from 2001 to 2005.
“It was tough. I’ve spoken through the whole tour about how, as a team, we want to have that feeling of playing for each other,” England captain Lawes said.
“When you are in those kind of scenarios, that’s the only thing that gets you through. Your body is broken, you’ve played for 11 months, you’re at the end of a tough tour and you’re under the cosh.
“What are you going to do? You’re going to dig in for your mates. I think we showed what it means to us.”
Lawes revealed that England were motivated by the repeated claims made by Australia that they had been targeted off the ball as part of baiting tactics used by the tourists.
Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou also said that he wanted to “smash” opposite number Ellis Genge.
“They give us a good bit of fuel in the press to be fair. They were talking smack about us. That motivated us a bit,” Lawes said.
“Some people were targeting Gengey and some people were calling us Poms and whatnot. It’s all good fuel for our tank and any good team uses that as motivation.”
Jones confirmed that the withdrawal of Danny Care in the 37th minute was tactical following an error-strewn display from the veteran scrum-half, who was replaced by the tidier Jack van Poortvliet.
Six years ago Jones delivered a 3-0 whitewash of Australia and he admitted winning this series was every bit as satisfying.
“This was tougher. We had a more established team in 2016 coming on the back of the Grand Slam and coming on the back of the 2015 team,” he said.
“We are nurturing this team at the moment. We have got a good group of senior players and we have got all these guys coming through, so it was an entirely different experience.
“We weren’t as prepared as we needed to be for the first Test because we didn’t have enough time on the training paddock, which we don’t control.
“But as the tour went on we got more cohesive, more together, understood how we needed to play. It was also a great tour for the boys.”
Australia had no problem creating chances but once again they could capitalise as another Test slipped through their fingers.
“I’m disappointed because we gave away some soft points such as Marcus Smith’s try. We’ve got to look at ourselves because we had plenty of chances,” head coach Dave Rennie said.
“You’ve got be clinical and take your opportunities. I reckon we’re better than the result and better than the result last week.”
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