At no stage today did the Wallabies get into top gear, in fact there were plenty of periods of play where the game just turned scrappy. Nevertheless, the pleasing aspect to take out of this game was that Australia still managed to run in 7 tries, whereas for example the Boks nearly got turned over in just such a situation yesterday.
Between Tonga B and Fiji B I couldn’t tell you who’s better, but that’s not the point. Only a few months ago such a game could have been a stumbling point for Australia if the repetitive phase play had gone off the rails. Today’s Wallabies however showed a cutting edge in the backs and enough steel in the forwards to canter home relatively easily. They also made the right decisions to take points at the right times; Barnes displaying again his useful knack of slotting drop goals.
The key play maker in gold today was kid dynamite, Matt Giteau, scoring two tries himself, having a hand in most others and bagging a total of 27 points. He looked sharp, and you get the feeling he enjoyed calling the shots in the absence of Larkham and Mortlock, both resting due to injury. Barnes had another good game, he’s a tough little bugger and doesn’t get ruffled easily.
Drew Mitchell managed to get on the end of a hat-trick, although his size and power did render him ineffectual at times. Tuqiri had the opposite of games, always being one pass away from scoring. LT must be getting a complex by now and it’s started to show in his play with unforced errors and slips of judgement. Again, his defence was shown up when Fiji went over for a score on his wing with man on man coverage. A poor miss.
If Phil Waugh was realistically hoping to edge out George Smith, he didn’t do it today. The New South Welshman made some great passes and links, but was poor on the floor. Moore had another good game, his throwing is consistent and he makes hard yards around the rucks, just got a little isolated at times.
The lineout again functioned well, winning all of our ball and stealing almost half of theirs. However, my suspicion that Chisholm is clumsy tall timber in the loose gets reinforced with each game he plays. McMenimen hasn’t done anything to edge out Elsom or Hoiles, but I believe the door is open for to bench second row for someone with hand-eye coordination. The scrum, well it wasn’t a mess today, but hey, this was Fiji B.
So plenty of positives, but the bit that is concerning, and that no doubt Muggles will be filthy about, are the two holes that opened up – one through the line-out and the other through Tuqiri – that gifted Fiji their tries. Another side could well have made them pay.
As Knuckles said:
“We’re not overly happy with the way we played, but there’s a certain amount of satisfaction that we scored 50-odd points, we’re No.1 (in the pool) and we know where we’re headed now.”
SO WHAT DO YOU RECKON:
CRUISEY WIN, OR WORRYING MISTAKES?
See stats here
Tries: Giteau 2, Mitchell 3, Ashley-Cooper, Hoiles
Cons: Giteau 4
Pens: Giteau 3
Drop goal: Barnes
Tries: Neivua, Ratuva
Australia: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 George Gregan (c), 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Matt Dunning
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Hugh McMeniman, 19 Stephen Hoiles, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Scott Staniforth, 22 Julian Huxley
Fiji: 15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Vilimoni Delasau, 13 Maleli Kunavore, 12 Seremaia Bai (c), 11 Isoa Neivua, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Jone Daunivucu, 8 Jone Qovu, 7 Aca Ratuva, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 4 Isoa Domolailai, 3 Henry Qiodravu, 2 Vereniki Sauturaga, 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua
Replacements: 16 Bill Gadolo, 17 Jone Railomo, 18 Wame Lewaravu, 19 Sisa Koyamaibole, 20 Mosese Rauluni, 21 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 22 Seru Rabeni
Referee: Nigel Owens
Touch judges: Christophe Berdos, Mark Lawrence
Television match official: Craig Joubert
Assessor: Bob Francis