OVERALL it was an error ridden performance by the Australia against South Africa on Saturday, but here’s how I rated the performances, and what it means for selection going forward.
15. Huxley 5/10 – I keep wanting this guy to have a great game as we can sorely need some of the tactical and line kicking skills he can bring. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can wait for him to lose the yips and put on 3 stone. It will be interesting to see how Saint Latho goes against the ABs.
14. Ashley-Cooper 8/10 – I’ve been forced to eat my words about his move to wing. His strength and class has shown through, to a point where I believe Tuqiri is no longer an auto-selection. Exciting times ahead if he continues like this
11. Mark Gerrard 7.5/10 – Might seem a bit harsh as he scored one try and set up another with a grubber kick to Giteau. However, there too many other mistakes and as a balance with AA-C or Tuqiri we need more pace, like a Mitchell or Ioane. With his boot could replace Huxley at 15?
13. Mortlock (c) 7/10 – Still showing the good straight running that we need and solid defense. Too many mistakes for his calibre though.
12. Giteau 6.5/10 – Got on the end of the Gerrard kick for a try, but otherwise very quiet considering his skills. Also mistakes, like not putting the important penalty kick out. Regardless, putting him at 9 is not the answer.
10. Larkham 6.5/10 – Nice set up of the set-piece try, but otherwise an average game for Bernie. His tactical kicking was also very average.
9. Gregan 7/10 – Has been unfairly slated in the Aussie press for his passing. I thought it looked pretty crisp and his steady leadership was crucial when 17-0 down
8. Hoiles 8/10 – Has he claimed this spot now with his hard running and speed around the park. The malaise when the heavier Lyons came on the park was notable. Also seems to have a knack of scoring tries
7. Smith 7.5/10 – Is getting back to his pilfering best, but is giving away too many silly penalties. Also great linking game.
6. Elsom 8/10 – As with Hoiles, the breakdown became a mess when he was subbed. Did a mountain of clear out work and even threw a triple miss pass to set up Hoiles! Would like to see a bit more running with the ball though
5. Vickerman 5/10 – Still not back to his best. Shoulder still suspect?
4. Sharpe 5/10 – Still popping up nicely in the loose but not as many yards made and of course threw the intercept pass to Paulse
3. Sheperdson 6/10 – Scrummaging still looking suspect but good job around the breakdown
2. Frier 7.5/10 – A little human dynamo in the loose, scavenging like a 7 and making precious turn-overs. One crucial line out throw botched.
1. Dunning 5/10 – Same as Shepherdson, but not so obvious around the park.
Reserves – I think Connolly got this the wrong way round. The forwards subs simply killed all continuity and the backs subs of Staniforth and Mitchell had no time to make any impact, coming on with less than 2 minutes to go.