The first thing to say is that sometimes in sport what you need is a win and it doesn’t really matter on those occasions if the win is pretty, or you could have played a lot better. What you’re after is a win. For the Wallabies, this was one of those times.
They had to win and they did. It was tight, but no-one could say they didn’t deserve the win. The Wallabies may not have been superior, but they weren’t inferior. I was there and the conditions were much, much worse than they looked on TV. It was a good win.
I thought that Nic White clearly justified his inclusion. At the game I thought he could have been a bit tidier, but on television I thought he was even better. He personally made a significant contribution to the win. White’s kicking game was instrumental. Even without it he was still a good decision, but with it he was a no brainer. I don’t think we would have won the game with Will playing the way he has been.
As an example, look at White’s clearance for Folau’s try. It’s nigh on perfect. As a contrast look at Quade Cooper’s catch and pass in the same sequence. I think only Folau could have scored from it. As per last week’s clip, yet again Lealiifano attacked the line directly and asked questions.
I thought Quade still didn’t play well. A lot of players who’ve had a significant injury to their legs take a full season of play or more to get back to where they were. Quade has no-where near the agility or acceleration he had before the injuries. With Toomua and Lealiifano as two potential fly halves, I actually don’t think there’s currently room for Quade in the 23. I think we can move forward a bit.
If we wanted to work on it we could make a very good backline with Lealiifano, Kuridrani and Ashley-Cooper as the midfield. Tevita at inside centre may need a little bit of development, but if someone is clear and accurate with what they want of him, I reckon he could deliver. The inside centre role is quite fundamental. Run straight, accelerate the pace of the backline, give the ball back to the 10 on a loop or on a Brumbies/Larkham line – that pretty much overs your game.
I thought that Lealiifano played very well, he also makes a significant contribution to the team. Together with a bigger runner at 12 this could be a very dynamic pairing. Not that Toomua would be bad at 10 either, but Lealiifano is a great goal kicker.
My point is we need some jiggling in this mid-field. People in Perth asked me how in the past I’ve picked guys who seem to have come from nowhere. My thinking was always that even if a player wasn’t up to the incumbent standard now, that if that player could eventually take us further towards where we want to go, we should go with him. Straight runners aren’t thick on the ground in Aussie rugby and Kuridrani is one of them.
Mowen as skipper was excellent. He is clearly a leader of some ability. He stays calm, logical and firm. I would have questioned his decision to kick the penalty in the 78th minute because we needed to keep possession of the ball. A lineout is going to take almost a minute in itself, down the right end of the field. I actually thought the penalty shot was more difficult than the one they knocked back in the 71st minute. I’m not 100% sure Mowen is going to be a top tier world player. But he’s a very good player and excellent leader. Even if Genia comes back, I’d leave Ben captain.
Our scrum really struggled, not only but particularly because our tight head side is not scrummaging well. Looking at it this week it was clear to me that our tight heads (especially Ben Alexander) don’t use the strength in their right arm enough and the opposition loose head is able to almost maneuver his head and right shoulder with ease.
If Ewen McKenzie had been tight head prop, the loose head from Argentina would never have been able to do what he did.
The tight head has got his right arm above the loose head’s bind. What he’s got to do is get hold of the opposite prop and using the strength in his arm pull him in towards you and down. You’ve got to screw him a little bit so that he’s slightly off balance and can’t manoevre his back around to drive in underneath you. It’s like saying to the loosehead “come here, you’re not going anywhere”. The way Alexander kept popping out of the scrum it’s clear there’s classic loose head play going on here.
The other thing is that I thought Stephen Moore seems to be struggling under these new settings where you have to push and hook. He seems to be coming up on the hook. It’s up to our loose head to make sure that the opposition tight head and hooker aren’t coming in on him. It makes me think that with Polota Nau’s strength these laws could suit him.
It would also seem to me that if our scrum’s under pressure, why does our eight keep breaking off to feed the halfback? Surely this can’t be helping? I’d even think about channel one ball – we did it for an entire tour of New Zealand at one time with no bad results. It can be done. This number 8 feeding seems to be a habit we’ve got into with Will.
Lineout-wise we don’t really have a number four jumper. While our locks are international standard, they don’t appear to be world class. We don’t have that tall athletic type to soar at the back. Mowen is great and Fardy is good, but we really need that other jumping lock.
Our numbers at the tackle on opposition ball was very good. We were there or there abouts and when the opportunity presented itself we put them under pressure at the tackle and got some good turnovers through Hooper, Fardy and Ashley-Cooper.
I think we can still be a lot more accurate with our drive on our own ball. On our own ball we think our job is to clear out. But in my opinion our job is to drive. So what you see when our support players arrive at the tackle is a slight hesitation waiting for the ball carrier and the tackler to go to ground so we can clear the tackler off.
What I think you should do is just join in and keep the play going towards the opposition’s try line. Let the subsequent players sort the tackler out. If you can hit the ball, great , because that gives you a few more options.
Support play should always aim at the ball. This way you can never over-run it. If you’re aiming at the ball and the offload becomes possible you can easily adjust to go slightly wider (just 30-50 centimetres will do it). If you’re wide and need to come in, it’s too late.
There was an occasion in the first half when Simmons gave away a penalty because he hesitated, the pair involved in the tackle moves slightly off his line and where he went to clean out they were no longer there. As such the ref penalized him for coming in from the side and going off his feet when we were just metres from their line.
I thought there were numerous opportunities to use a wide right hand side blind with Folau. In every instance we went left – sometimes through scrum pressure, but not always. There are massive opportunities for him in that situation and he’ll be such a threat that the opposition will have to take extreme measures to defend him, thereby opening up others on the field. In my coaching era we must have scored more than 50% of our tries on that right hand side blind. We scored three tries against England at the SFS on the right hand blind.
The referee said to our scrum half “that you fed the ball before I said yes”. What law says you have to wait for the ref? Surely you feed it when the front row is right, not when the ref tells him? Also, I don’t care what Vinny Munro or the commentary team say, but if Lealiifano wasn’t obstructed when Argentina scored their try, I don’t know what that is. He made contact!
Finally, I thought our good players were Folau, Lealiifano and White. Our pack toiled were but were technically outpointed. We won the game in the period from 45-50 minutes when Argentina camped in our 10 metre zone with two scrums, three lineouts and no points.
Our graft got us over the line, and in some matches, that’s all that counts.