Thursday’s rugby news has Australia’s first RWC match, Cheika happy, English selection dramas and a huge Argentinean suspension.
Wallabies defeat Fiji
The Wallabies have beaten pool rivals Fiji 28-13 win at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff yesterday. While the Wallabies were not overly convincing in victory, coach Michael Cheika was upbeat with the result. “It was physical, we covered a lot of metres and guys were blowing a bit. It was exactly what we needed, I was really pleased with some of the things in the performance.”
Cheika would’ve been thrilled to see the continued success of his strategy to start both of his brilliant ball-seeking openside flankers, with Pocock and Hooper together making 38 tackles and forcing three turnovers in the ruck. Less convincing was Australia’s work at the set piece – with both the scrum and lineout leaving plenty of room for improvement.
Cheika content without bonus point
Australia coach Michael Cheika was adamant that victory and not a quest for a bonus point had been the focus of his team’s opening World Cup win against Fiji yesterday. The Wallabies scored three tries through David Pocock (2) and Sekope Kepu to Fiji’s one at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff but, crucially, missed out on a bonus point awarded to teams that score four tries or more.
“I’m not counting points, I just want to win one game and then go on to the next game and try and win that,” Cheika said, later defending the team’s decision to kick for goal with 10 minutes remaining. Pool A rivals England and Wales have already bagged bonus points after their winning displays.
English 10 devastated
Former English flyhalf Toby Flood has said that Test coach Stuart Lancaster is taking a massive risk in changing the backline for the upcoming pool match against Wales, due to the effect it will have on demoted playmaker George Ford’s confidence. Flood thought that it may be difficult for Ford to come back into the starting lineup: “I think maybe this is going to hurt him a little bit mentally. Ultimately, he has been dropped when he hasn’t actually played that badly.”
England have opted for a midfield of Owen Farrell, Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt for the purposes of adding power to the backline. The changes were contemplated even prior to the chest injury sustained by Jonathan Joseph, with England fearing they had been exposed by the physicality of Fiji’s approach.
Galarza out of RWC
Argentina lock Mariano Galarza will play no further part in the World Cup after being suspended for nine weeks. The Pumas second row was found guilty of making contact with the eye of Brodie Retallick during Sunday’s loss to the All Blacks at Wembley. The suspension will effect immediately and includes all matches until 25 November, 2015.
Argentina’s Juan Manuel Leguizamon said that the team was shocked by the severity of the punishment. “We didn’t expect something like that,” Leguizamon, adding, “We can’t let our minds stray (with this) because in less than two days time we have an extremely important match.”