The Wallabies game against Italy last Sunday was a really solid start to the World Cup campaign.
There was always the prospect that the Wallabies could start the tournament a little slowly with a drop in intensity after the Tri-Nations final and a week off. The heavy rain at the start of the game wouldn’t have helped but I was happy enough with the first half performance.
The Italians played well, the wet conditions suiting their game plan and with 15 penalties interrupting the flow of the game the Wallabies could have panicked with a 6 all score line. However, the Wallabies are a much more composed side than they used to be and they stuck to their own plans and ground the Italians down. Those four tries in the second half were more a result of the work done in the first half more than anything.
The Australian scrum was really good against the strong Italian pack. The lineout was reasonable but has room for improvement, losing two of their own lineouts against an Italian lineout that wasn’t strong.
Whilst the Wallabies were turned over eight times at the breakdown they still retained the ball 92% of the time they took it in whilst limiting the Italians to an 86% retention rate.
Once again the Wallabies kicked more than their opposition, with 41% of possessions ending in a kick and I rated 78% of those kicks as positive. A couple of Will Genia’s box kicks held up in the wind and I wish Kurtley Beale would forget the chip kick.
Overall the Wallabies had 60% of possession (69% in the first half and 51% in the second half). They used that possession well making 9 line breaks to the Italians 1.
I only recorded 6 missed tackles for the game by the Wallabies with James Horwill who missed 2 being the only player to miss multiple tackles.
I thought Horwill was strong when he ran the ball but his workrate was down from where it’s been. I was surprised he was man of the match. Rocky Elsom, Sekope Kepu, Radike Samo and Anthony Faingaa all had quieter games than we need from them.
David Pocock was good (I can’t remember the last quiet game he had for the Wallabies, if ever) as was Ben Alexander. However the standout in the forward pack was Dan Vickerman and he finished with the highest Involvement rate of the starting pack at 1.03, well ahead of even Pocock at 0.88.
Will Genia and Quade Cooper directed the team really well and the composure I talked about earlier has a lot to do with how well they’re going.
Pat McCabe and Adam Ashley Cooper were solid enough but AAC needs to do some work on catching high balls. Anthony Faingaa had a very quiet game – apart from the one strong tackle and turnover he added little. Even though James O’Connor came on when the Italians were tiring the difference he made with AAC moving into the centres was compelling.
Digby Ioane was really good in attack and defence. I hope we see him back in time for the quarter finals. Kurtley Beale’s form concerns me – after such a strong 2010 I was expecting more from him than we’ve seen so far in 2011. He needs to straighten his attack up as he’s been run into touch himself or taken the space of his outside men far too often this season.
It was good to see Tatafu Polota-Nau back on the field for the Wallabies but it’s obviously going to take at least a couple of games for him to clear the rust out.
The Involvement Rates for all the Wallaby players is shown below.
Click on the icon in the column headings to sort the data.
|Game Mins||Carries||Total Tackles Made||Total Breakdown Involvements||Total Involvements||Involvement Rate|
Finally, my MOTS Award (Man Of The Statistics) has to be Dan Vickerman, even if we should deduct something for his referee back chat!
Click on the relevant icon below to see the full team or player statistics for the Wallabies.