The Wallabies won a match they had no right to win.
Darcy Swain was shown a red card after 34 minutes. Quade Cooper was a late scratching after injuring his calf in the warm-up and fullback Tom Banks (broken arm) and Allan Alaalatoa (concussion) were off inside the opening half-hour.
For Wallabies teams of the past they would have rolled over. Excuses would have been made. No longer.
Their 30-28 victory over England, which snapped an eight-match, seven-year losing streak against Eddie Jones’ side, could prove to be a line in the sand for the Wallabies and Australian rugby.
By doing so, they have taken the next step and delivered a performance that should be the marker.
In just the same way Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks fired a warning shot when they shocked the All Blacks in Wellington a year out from the World Cup, their win over England in Perth has the same mindblowing feel.
Here are our player ratings from the Wallabies’ astonishing win in the West.
Tom Banks – N/A
The Wallabies’ fullback may well have played his last Test and is set for a long stint on the sidelines after breaking his arm.
He was outjumped by Freddie Stewart in 13th minute out wide, but otherwise Banks and the Wallabies’ backs saw little ball early.
Given Banks’ early departure it wouldn’t be fair to give the 28-year-old, Japan-bound back a rating after leaving in the 21st minute having fallen awkwardly from a kick restart attempt.
Andrew Kellaway – 9
What an amazing game from the former NSW back, who shifted from the wing to fullback to cover Banks’ injury and Kellaway didn’t put a step wrong.
Safe under the high ball, Kellaway showed all the awareness of a 50-match fullback. His hands were good (last pass to Jordan Petaia for the Wallabies’ opening try), clever kicks (one long into touch in 45th minute and a grubber in opposition 22m line which saw Petaia bang Stewart into touch) and, of course, his tidy work under the high ball.
Early Kellaway was ineffective at the breakdown, which allowed Owen Farrell to bang over first points.
‘We’re gutted’: Banks breaks arm as Wallabies sweat on star duo for remainder of England series
Len Ikitau – 6.5
With Samu Kerevi used effectively in the midfield it was a quieter night in attack for the Wallabies outside centre.
But given the Wallabies had a man sent off and the scrappy nature of the first half, the first Test wasn’t one for the outside backs.
Nonetheless, Ikitau was hugely effective in defence and he led a strong defensive line.
Samu Kerevi – 9
The Wallabies inside centre was the difference in Perth.
Six years ago he made his debut and hasn’t the former Red grown with every passing year. He is world rugby’s most dominate midfielder.
Eddie Jones might have poked fun at Kerevi’s kicking game, but largely it was effective with one raking kick in the 37th minute a beauty. Then again, his box kick in the 28th minute – his second in a matter of seconds – was a shocker.
But Saturday night wasn’t about Kerevi’s kicking game, it was about his powerful, surging runs which settled the Wallabies down and allowed them to get on the front-foot.
Kerevi is the single-most important player for the Wallabies and his absence from last year’s Spring Tour said it all.
Marika Koroibete – 8.5
Dave Rennie believes Koroibete is the best winger in the world. It’s why he called the winger up for the series.
His trysaving tackle on Joe Marchant in the 20th minute was as good as it gets and was just like George Gregan’s effort on Jeff Wilson. It was a crucial moment in the game because it frustrated England’s efforts and first-half dominance.
Later, in the 61st minute, Koroibete climbed over Jack Nowell in the 61st minute to win a crucial kick restart for the Wallabies after Owen Farrell slotted three points and extended England’s lead out to 14-9.
But it was also the little moments in Koroibete’s game; the pick and drive, the leg-drive, the calm nature in attack deep in his own field.
Noah Lolesio – 9
Called into the starting side in the minutes before kick-off, Lolesio had a blinder.
He kicked six goals (three conversions, three penalties), which proved to the difference as his rival Farrell missed a couple of shots.
But it was the composure that stood out from the rising playmaker.
For many, being called in at the last minute would have been a leap too far. To guide a 14-man Wallabies side to victory showed awareness, composure and maturity.
Although he fell off one or two tackles, Lolesio also made an important goal-line stop on Jack Nowell.
He also took the line on in the 77th minute and made 10m. His efforts got the Wallabies on the front-foot and a few phases later, with England on the back foot, Pete Samu scored.
Lolesio was yellow carded for a deliberate knockdown on England 22m line, but it mattered little. The game was wrapped up.
Nic White – 8
If you can believe, White won two breakdown penalties. That fact in itself would almost be a Wallabies first. He got on the ball in the 15th minute after Jonny Hill made a turnover.
In the 28th minute, he also got on Billy Vunipola after Kerevi and Michael Hooper made the tackle.
White’s game extended to the tempo the Wallabies played with. He was out there for 75 minutes and his quick service, box kicking and work on the ball was pivotal in their win.
Rob Valetini – 7
It wasn’t quite the dominate showing we have become accustomed to witnessing in Super Rugby, but Valetini’s work in tight and ability to get the Wallabies on the front-foot was still evident.
Indeed, his strong run in the 40th minute to get over the gain line from scrum saw the Wallabies win a penalty one phase later with the visitors on the backfoot and penalised for being off-side.
Michael Hooper (c) – 8.5
The Wallabies skipper gets another point for his leadership. The Wallabies were down to 14 men for 45 minutes and had three first-choice players ruled out.
Hooper won a couple of crucial penalties at the breakdown, none bigger than in the 57th minute when England were hard on Australia’s line.
There were those usual important carries in tight, including in the 63rd minute to get Wallabies going forward ahead of Petaia’s try.
One little knock on in the 67th was overturned after the TMO spotted a high shot from Billy Vunipola, who was yellow carded.
Rob Leota – 6.5
The sting from the Wallabies blindside flanker was on display in Perth.
Leota hit hard and he often made a dent in the English line. That’s why the Rebel was selected ahead of Harry Wilson.
Early on, Leota was pinged for being off-side in the 16th minute.
Cadeyrn Neville – 8
When you consider Neville lost his second-row teammate and had to a lot of the grunt work, it goes to show how effective the 33-year-old was in his debut.
Neville held Ellis Genge up early in contact and won the Wallabies a scrum feed.
It was a helluva shift from Neville, who was excellent at the lineout and around the ruck, hitting countless rucks.
Darcy Swain – 2
Not a night the young Wallabies lock will look back upon with particularly fond memories. Well, not in the short-term anyway.
Swain was penalised early for hands in the ruck and his transition with Hooper in the 10th minute led to an accidental off-side too.
Swain did, however, get up in front and stole a lineout in the eighth minute after his early penalty.
But the reality is Swain was red carded after leading with his head and being given his marching orders. He will learn from it and better now then next year’s World Cup.
Swain is a player for the future, but England attempted to get under his skin and they succeeded.
Allan Alaalatoa – N/A
Concussed in the 25th minute. Yes, he was penalised at the time for failing to roll away but he was also knocked out.
Alaalatoa had held his own at scrum time before being forced off.
Dave Porecki – 8.5
England said they would try to exploit the Wallabies’ tight-five and while Swain was sent off, Porecki was cool as a cucumber and showed all the experience of years in the English Premiership and a strong two years in Super Rugby with the Waratahs.
Porecki was the Wallabies’ best tight-five forward.
He might have been pinged once for hands in the ruck, but it was a good penalty to give away. The Wallabies were on the backfoot after Tom Curry’s linebreak and Koroibete’s trysaver on Marchant.
Porecki was useful in attack down the short side and his turnover in the 45th minute was a beauty.
Angus Bell – 7.5
Another top shift from the best young front-rower in the country. Bell was superb in his 54 minutes on the field.
Early Bell was penalised for hinging in the 11th minute. But from that moment on he was superb.
He was a breakdown penalty in the 14th minute when England was in the Wallabies’ 22.
His run from an Andrew Kellaway pop-pass in the 32nd minute also led to a try — which would not have countered given Swain’s red card.
Folau Fainga’a — 7
The Force-bound hooker got on the end of a rolling maul and did what he did with the Brumbies for years – find a way to the tryline.
His try was a beauty and helped the Wallabies extend their lead out beyond a converted try.
His smashing tackle a few minutes later on his tryline led to Hooper and Pete Samu getting on the ball to win a breakdown turnover. Top little cameo.
Scott Sio – 7
Sio carried his form into the Test arena.
The entire Wallabies front-row smashed England at the scrum in the 75th minute.
James Slipper – 7.5
The Wallabies vice-captain made an early entrance to the game following Alaalatoa’s yellow head knock.
But given Slipper was playing on the other side of the scrum, the Wallabies prop was exceptional. The scrum edged England and he was strong in defence and around the field.
Slipper is also one of the key leaders in the Wallabies.
Matt Philip – 6.5
Strong shift after coming on after 54 minutes.
Philip had a couple of good carries ahead of Petaia’s try.
Pete Samu – 7
A breakdown penalty win alongside Hooper in the 73rd minute and a match-sealing try.
When you talk about impact, look no further than Samu who is very much a super-sub being able to cover all three positions in the back-row.
Samu’s footwork to score was stunning. After a good cut-out from Jake Gordon, he absolutely turned Lewis Ludlam inside out to wrong foot his opposite number.
Jake Gordon – N/A
Gordon didn’t get a score because he came on in the 76th minute. But what the Waratahs captain did do was have a memorable few minutes.
His first ball to Koroibete was a beauty, as the Wallabies got over the gain line.
His next cut out was even better, as he found Samu and the Wallabies back-rower showed great footwork to score.
James O’Connor – N/A
Called up in the last minute, O’Connor came on at the death. But the ease that Henry Arundell got past him will be of concern.
Jordan Petaia – 8
When you think about match-changing moments, think Petaia.
Earlier Marchant failed to score from a similar situation when Koroibete banged him into touch.
In the second half, with the Wallabies needing a reason to believe Air Jordie scored as he stepped back in from his wing and had the strength to score.
Petaia also made a great shot on Ludlam to bang backrower into touch.