Whilst the Wallabies went down again, making it ten in a row against the All Blacks, it was a great game of rugby and the Wallabies were very competitive.
It was good to see the Wallabies pressuring the All Black lineout which resulted in the All Blacks only winning 69% of their ball.
Possession was fairly even with the Wallabies starting possession 40 times and the All Blacks 37. However the All Blacks retained possession for 128 phases compared to 108 phases for the Wallabies. As a result the Wallabies were forced to make 178 tackles compared to 143 for the All Blacks.
Both teams missed a similar number of tackles with the Wallabies missing 27 for an 85% accuracy rate and the All Blacks missing 25 for an 83% accuracy rate. The Wallabies dominant tackles dropped to only 17% this week and that allowed the All Blacks to make a significantly higher number of offloads in tackles.
The individual tackling numbers had some positives – Kurtley Beale’s 100% accuracy included a try saver on Nonu in the corner and David Pocock led the way with 18 tackles with Stephen Moore, Ben McCalman, Will Genia and Matt Giteau getting through a lot of work in defence as well. Mark Chisolm’s numbers confirm that he had another underwhelming game – only 4 tackles made.
Quade Cooper – what can you say – he missed 9 tackles of the Wallabies 27 – his technique needs a lot of work! Of those missed tackles, 3 were misses where he was diving from too far away from the player but his biggest issue where he missed 6 tackles is making the initial contact and then falling off. This leaves one of his team mates having to complete the tackle – he needs to get his shoulder into the contact and wrap his arms instead of trying to tackle with his arms as he is at the moment.
In attack the Wallabies made 11 line breaks to 8 and lost the ball 7 times compared to the All Blacks with 6.
At the breakdown the Wallabies achieved 8 turnovers (including penalties received) whilst the All Blacks turned over Wallaby ball 9 times. Once again the Wallabies were a little slow in supporting the ball carrier going into contact.
Lachlan Turner had a great game and that’s reflected in the numbers with 4 of the Wallabies line breaks credited to him. Kurtley Beale stepped up again this week and had no issues in defence but I was surprised the All Black’s didn’t send some high kicks at him – maybe they’re worried about his counter attacking abilities if he catches the ball and weaves his way through traffic.
Stephen Moore was very strong and I can understand why Robbie Deans didn’t see the need to go to the bench for Edmonds. Nathan Sharpe was good again along with Ben McCalman.
The back line was well contained by the All Blacks with Quade Cooper only threatening the line three times and Matt Giteau twice. Cooper, Gitean and Beale kicked really well in general play and that’s an area that has improved significantly from the June tests.
I know there are some that thought Giteau had a poor game but I’m not one of them – whilst I was one of those calling for him to be replaced earlier in the year, now that he’s not playing #10 I think he’s been good for the Wallabies.
I’ve also seen the comments that Will Genia has been playing poorly and has been slow getting to the breakdown – well I must have been watching different games because I believe he’s had a good Tri Nations. I wonder if there is too much expectation on Genia – he is now being heavily marked and this makes it hard for him to produce the blinding attacking displays we’ve seen previously. His defence is still great, his passing has been excellent, his kicking is really good in general play and I see no problem with his speed in getting to the breakdown. On Saturday night four of his passes ended with poor results and two of those were perfect but the receiver stood still instead of running onto the ball.
Next week I’ll publish the stats for the speed of the breakdown over all the Wallabies games in the Tri Nations – I think many of you will be surprised how well Genia has been going in this area. On Saturday night he was in position for 47 rucks and out of position or slow getting to 5 rucks. Of those 5, he was on the bottom of the previous ruck once and the previous ruck occurred on the other side of the field twice so he really only missed 2 rucks. Burgess has certainly improved his game in the short periods we’ve seen him but I think Genia is the much better halfback and can’t see Burgess being promoted above him.
I don’t expect many changes for the next test in Hong Kong – S. Faingaa onto the bench for Edmonds, Mitchell into the starting lineup for JOC with JOC moving to the bench and A. Faingaa moving out of the squad.
Then once the Wallabies hit Europe I hope Alexander comes back in for Ma’afu to bolster the front row. Hynes may come into consideration but apart from that I don’t think Robbie Deans will be rushing anyone else back into the test 22.
With that team I can almost see the Wallabies getting by until the likes of Horwill, Palu, TPN and Ioane are fit. Others like Davies, Chambers and Horne will bolster depth. I say almost because the one area I think there is still a major hole is a partner for Sharpe. If fit, Horwill is a shoe in but until then what options are there? I didn’t see anything from Simmons to suggest he’s ready and Mumm and Chisolm have had plenty of chances to show they’ve got something to offer and apart from filling a spot on the bench it doesn’t seem they have.
The other area in which I believe a change is required before the next game is a new goal kicker. I suspect Giteau’s flaw in his technique will keep returning when the pressure comes on, so it’s time to try someone else.
During the break we’ll be bringing you regular reviews of the 2010 statistics for the Wallabies starting next week with my look at the speed of the ball from the Wallaby breakdown.
Click on the relevant icon below to download the Team and Player statistics.