Wallabies 34 – France development XV 13
Aussie Robbie’s been telling us that progress to a Deans-afied Wallabies would be one step at a time, and in so many ways this first test win over France at Stadium Australia proved to be just that. As an example, last week there were a measly 20 minutes of flowing attack, this week there were 30. While this is obviously an improvement, for many Aussie fans it means the glass is less than half-full (3/8ths to be exact).
In the first 30 minutes of the game the Wallabies had upwards of 60% possession and close to 70% territory, yet the score was still 3-3 until Cam Shepherd took a gamble allowing Giteau to isolate Captain Caveman in the line and scoot around him. The telling stat for that pre-try period was the turnovers, 12-6 against Australia – in the first half an hour! And this doesn’t count the free’s given against for early engagment at the scrum to go with the bungled re-starts.
But it wasn’t just the period of dominance or number of tries that marked an evolution today, but also the style in which it was done. I’ve heard it said already – that it was decidedly Crusader-ish – but dammit, that’s exactly what it looked like to me. How so?
- The complete switch of gears from the kick off in the second half. Out was the touch rugby, and in was the pick, drive and offload. How many times (and how recently!) have you seen the evil men in red and black do that when the free-flowing mojo ain’t working? In a recording stuff up, I didn’t see the second half for several hours. During that time, I’d imagined just how the Wallabies of old could have continued on in a directionless fashion to blow this game. Thankfully, not last night.
- Support play and offloading. Over recent years, how many times did someone make a break to be on his jack jones? Now there are supporting runners all over the show taking defence busting inside angles off passes out of the tackle. The Wallabies are scoring ties in seconds that would have taken 15 phases not long ago.
- The first and second five-eighth malarky. I’d never really got the idea of a weedy 12 before, but it’s just starting to grow on me. Having another ball player in Barnes to make shit happen is starting to pay off, especially with runners like Horwill and Robinson looking for work.
So, while it was 5/8ths disappointing (although did I mention the D was again awesome?) against a lackluster French development squad there are the early inklings of the hand of Robbie. Big question is, with only one more run-out before the real games start, can the Wallabies shape up fast enough?
PS. How hard did Jonker and Kaplan try to fcuk up the reffing with pedantic calls?
Tries: Giteau, Sharpe, Elsom, Mortlock
Cons: Giteau 4
Pens: Giteau 2
Pens: Yachvili 2
Australia: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Peter Hynes, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Phil Waugh, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Ryan Cross, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper.
France: 15 Pepito Elhorga, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Damien Traille, 12 François Trinh-Duc, 11 Benjamin Thiéry, 10 Benjamin Boyet, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Sébastien Chabal, 4 Lionel Nallet (c), 3 Benoît Lecouls, 2 Sébastien Bruno, 1 Lionel Faure.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Renaud Boyoud, 18 David Couzinet, 19 Mathieu Lièvremont, 20 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 21 Thibault Lacroix, 22 David Janin.
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Wayne Erickson (Australia).