Apologies for the late posting, I was hungover from drowning my sorrows from having to watch that disaster. Saturday night proved to be disappointing to Wallabies fans in all so many ways. With the game not going to plan, selections not working and the injury toll now debilitating our world cup bid. Was it what we expected? I would say minus the injuries yes!
The First half didn’t really start off the way the Wallabies or Eddie would have wanted. A beautiful kick by Aaron Smith sent the ball deep into the All Blacks Attacking 22. The subsequent lineout was a smart piece of rugby, with Tate McDermott getting folded in half by Scott Barrett the ball dislodging and being tapped down for a try by Shannon Frizelle. And that there kind of set the tone for the evening.
The Wobs then get possession and their attack looks quite reasonable. We almost tap it down under the posts but spin it wide for some Koroibete magic. Only to be denied, but through the TMO process when find that Bobby had actually already scored under the posts. Carter Gordon converts to have the Wallabies in the lead at 7-5. There is some back and forth until the 14 min mark when the Wobs get a penalty and elect to take the 3, but alas they can’t as CG’s radar struggles and the questions about who is going to be our kicker for this game are answered in the worst way possible. We restart and a few minutes along the Wobs get a penalty, we kick deep and can’t find touch. Again CG’s kicking isn’t going to plan. A kicking duel of force ’em backs ensues with Australia continually kicking away possession for no betterment. Beauden Barrett gets possession and kicks and chases until Kerevi gives away a stupid penalty by checking his advance.
The Wobs then defend for a long passage of play, showing some starch in their defence. Until Koroibete continues with Australia’s trait of poor discipline and plays the ball when well offside. Barnes blows the whistle and Telea takes a quick tap and goes over the line for a try. Only to have it rescinded because in his haste he didn’t kick the ball properly. And Koroibeite gets a cheese for his cynical play. We haven’t learnt. Some back-and-forth continues until NZ starts to build some consistent phases placing our defence under pressure. A nice line out and rolling maul has the All Blacks over for a try in the corner. Mounga converts to have the Kiwis up 12-7. Carter Gordon then completely fluffs up the kickoff and we go for a scrum. Whilst waiting to pack down the clock ticks off we have Koroboite return from the naughty chair. Some play ensues then we go for another scrum. The results of his bought tears to my eyes as our captain 7A’s goes down and is stretchered off in what we suspect is the end of his RWC campaign. The Tongan Thor comes on and play resumes with the Kiwis applying phase after phase of attacking pressure. Then the All Blacks do what they always do and bang down a try just on half-time via Will Jordan. And we go to oranges with Australia down 19-7, and the wheels already look shaky for the Wobs. Eddie needs to make some changes but elects not to!
The second half begins at a frantic pace with the Aussies going on attack with a line out 5 metres of the try line. The Kiwis attack the line out hard and Barnes warns the Aussies to use it, but of course, we don’t, the Kiwis then counter-ruck hard and turn over possession and our attack comes to nought yet again. At the 47 min mark, Eddie goes to the bench and replaces the rest of the front row and a few others, but alas not his 10. Tate as acting Captain elects to go for the sideline and line out and back on the attacks, which ends in Kerevi being held up over the line in a beautiful tackle by Scott Barret and Will Jordan. We get the ball back via an offside penalty and keep attacking til we are turned over yet again on the try line, but almost as bad as not getting the try Tupou looks to be badly hurt, but decides to soldier on. At the 50-minute mark, Carter finally gets pulled and QC comes on to control the play along with Nic White. The Australians continue on the attack, and yet again get turned over just short of the try line.
Play continues but it becomes obvious that Tupou is not able to continue and off he goes, but then comes back and packs a scrum, then a second scrum but eventually has to retire hurt. With Bell coming back on, and Slipper shifting to tight-head. But to rub salt into our wounds Tupou is given a cheese and we are back down to 14 for the second time this game. And Bell has to leave the field. After the better part of 16 mins of attack by the Aussies, the Kiwis turn defence into attack and rapidly bang down a try in the corner via Caleb Clarke. AB’s up 26-7.
The Kiwis really start to put the hammer down and apply significant pressure, and defending yet again with only 14 men, the pressure breaks and Mark Telea goes over for a try. Mounga misses a difficult conversion and the Kiwis extended their lead to 31-7. Some further hard attacks from the Kiwis running it hard from inside their own 22 and a brilliant run and offload from Mark Telea, he sends Reiko Ioane over the line, Mounga converts and it is 38-7 and looking really dreary for the Wallabies.
Australia finally goes on the attack again and through a nice little Quade chip kick, Kellaway is put in space but then falls over and is turned over and the Kiwis switch from Defence to attack, Mounga kicks up the middle, splits our defence, races through and collects the ball and a try, making the Aussies look like an under 15 team. However, upon review it is found Mounga gave Marika a nudge without the ball and the try is disallowed and we hand the ball to QC to kick for touch. Play continues with the Wallabies continually making silly decisions and demonstrating poor skills but somehow NZ can’t make points out of this, and Australia gives away a penalty and Mounga kicks it into touch to put the Wallabies out of their misery 38-7.
Again our game plan had us kicking away too much possession. Carter Gordon struggled with his kicking and Tate McDermott’s passing game still needs significant work, but his delivery was certainly quicker. Our defence was better than the last two tests, but our errors generally cause catastrophic failures resulting in tries. Our discipline was again problematic with 2 yellow, forcing our team to defend hard and burn lots of energy, causing sapping fatigue. That fatigue induces stupid decisions and bad mistakes and becomes a vicious cycle. Angus Bell and Marky Mark were able to hold their heads up high. QC when given front-foot ball looked good. Nic White struggled but was still yappy and annoying.
Congratulations to the All Blacks they were clinical and demonstrated yet again how to transition from Defence to attack and bang down points.
The injuries to the Aussies are going to cause a rapid re-shape of the team and particularly the forward pack. I also think Eddie has to re-think his halves combinations and look at pairing QC with Tate to start and bring on Carter Gordon and Nic White at the end. This performance was not what we were looking for, although there were some minor positives, particularly in relation to our defensive efforts. Eddie has a lot of work to do that is for sure. Did we expect to lose? Yes. This badly? No.
Over to you RDU’s