Firstly a hearty congratulations to both Los Pumas and the All Blacks for what can only be described as good performances. We will have a look at the ‘Nearlies’ stunning match win over the ‘Dutch Dirt Farmers’, in Taking Care of Business. But first, let’s have a dissection of the Wallaby’s below-par performance on Saturday night.
Are the Wallabies becoming Catholic?
Well, the Hoss Man refers to the South Africans as Catholics (due to them having an aversion to the pill (ball) in playing non-possession rugby). And with Eddie the messiah (insert sarcasm font) saying possession rugby is dead, the question I have to ask? Are the Wallabies becoming the new Catholics?
Whilst our retention of the pill was slightly better than last week, playing a game with 35% or thereabouts possession and marginally more territory, demonstrates that the game plan is not working. Nic White kicking away first-phase possession, just inside our own half was infuriating. At least in this game, we didn’t have ‘fat-forwards’ kicking away possession (yes Slipper I am looking at you). Having a speculative kick like QC did when we had an advantage is fine, no harm, no foul when we screw it up, we just come back to where we were, and if we score yahoo! Bonus! But kicking away possession for no discernable reason in the first phase is just stupid rugby. And let’s face facts this current Wallaby side is not renowned for its rugby brains!
Another thing that got my goat in relation to giving away possession, was the pushed passes. 7 A’s and Fraser McReight were guilty of obvious ones. But they were not on their ‘Pat Malone’ there. Better to tuck and roll and accept the tackle than push a bad situation with a bad pass and make it worse.
The Protection ‘Rucket’
To be 100% honest what really got my goat this entire game was the Wallaby’s total lack of respect for possession. So many times we had the pill and were moving forward, got some gain line advantage, then we turn it over because we were not protecting the ball at the ruck. I lost count of how many times this occurred during the game, but bugger me it was a lot.
The Wallabies need to respect possession more. When we play the Nearlies, any turnover ball will be punished brutally. We can not afford to just keep handing over possession. Our breakdown work was not even club rugby standard. With the Argies controlling the flow and the pace of the game. Rarely did we threaten to turn the FISM’s over and they knew it. So they took their opportunities and waited patiently till we either dropped the ball, or didn’t secure it, and bingo back in attack. What we would give to have Senator Pocock back playing.
Slippin Away with Me
The defensive structure was slightly more evident this week, but our first-up completion of tackles is poor. So many first tackles were slipped through, enabling Los Pumas to get front-foot ball. Tom Wright, whilst leagues ahead of Vunivalu, was still defensively poor in either not making tackles or being caught well out of position.
This defensive structure either needs to be revised or properly bedded in before next week. As the Darkness will make short order of it, and we will be in for a cricket score of a defeat, of that there is little doubt. Super rugby frailties are coming home to roost.
Leadership and the Referump!
The leadership of the Wallabies must change. We need a new Captain. Sorry Slips, but it ain’t you. It isn’t Michael Hooper, and it isn’t 7 A’s. We need a Captain that will lead, fault-correct players when required, and have a respectful relationship with the Referumps. It became evident during the game that the players including Slipper didn’t think that they had done anything wrong. They genuinely thought that they were on the end of a Peyper Pineapple. Now don’t get me wrong, there were a few of Peyper’s decisions that were a little baffling. But like arguing with the bank, you don’t change their mind. Seek clarification, do it respectfully then move on. Standing around flapping your arms doesn’t get the team anywhere. Nic White carrying on like a pork chop doesn’t do the Wobs any favours.
Australia’s discipline is crap! Every ‘referump’ knows it! So it is time for the Wallabies to reset, have a new Captain, one that will enforce the standard required with the team, and deal with the officials respectfully and professionally. There is little doubt that this is now a cultural issue in Australian rugby. The Ponies and Reds certainly had issues this SRP season. And the Wallabies have had this problem for close to a decade now. This will be a challenge for Eddie to break the culture, instill discipline and reshape the narrative. The carrot hasn’t worked, I suggest the stick! And a bloody big one!
The moment I saw Icky Sticky wincing in pain after that try, my heart dropped. Lenny, along with Kerevi and QC are the first picks in this squad. Late mail suggests that it is a fractured scapula. This according to my medical mates is a 6-8 week recovery. This will mean if all goes to plan, Icky Sticky will be back by the beginning of the pool games. We wish him a speedy recovery, god knows we need him.
The big dollar question is “Who do we replace him with?” Carter Gordon did an admirable job stepping in and playing 13 for the game. Did he do a brilliant job? No! But no one expected him to. The selection strategy didn’t work with a 6-2 bench in this case. If you have a 6-2 bench, one of your backs has to be a utility like a Hodge or a JOC 2.0. But hats off to Carter Gordon, that man gives 100%.
Taking Care of Business
A fantastic 35-20 victory to our sheep-loving brothers, that at times had them making it look easy. The Kiwis executed a well-determined game plan that starved the Saffa’s of front-foot ball. All other world cup teams need to watch this match to see how to disable the DDF’s! Whether you have the minerals to execute it is another story, but the plan is there for all to see.
The Darkness didn’t have it all their own way, with the South African scrum dominating, and a few lineouts being snaffled. But, the Kiwi’s mastered the way to slow the ball down and take away the advantage of a monstrous pack. With combinations starting to gel and a complete barnstorming game by both Frizelle and Will Jordan, the All Blacks are really starting a strong build into the back end of the TRC and the beginning of the Bill. You can never write the Kiwis off that is for sure. I am very thankful they aren’t in our pool.
Let’s see what this next week brings, and whether Eddie gets out the cattle prod at training and forcibly instills some discipline into the Wobs. Over to you RDUs, have at it!