Eight Observations from the Wallabies vs Ireland Series - Green and Gold Rugby

Eight Observations from the Wallabies vs Ireland Series

Eight Observations from the Wallabies vs Ireland Series

What a series.

Two good teams trading haymakers for three weeks, with the Irish just edging it in the end.

We’ve learned plenty, so let’s get stuck in.

It’s a fine line…

…between pleasure and pain. The Divinyls penned the soundtrack to the third test, with the series coming down to the final play on the Irish line. We had the numbers, but it was well defended by the Irish backs and we didn’t use the space as effectively as we could have. Bernard Foley goes for glory with a speculator pass, but it wasn’t to be.

It’s hard to reconcile as a fan when the margin between a win for the ages and a crushing loss is so close. Did the series hang on that one play? Does our inability to convert a one-man overlap make the series a failure? If we scored, does it then become a success?

This is why the three-match series format is so bloody good. That final play had a backstory that lasted a month, a slow crescendo that ended in a deafening roar. The Wallabies lost the game and the series, but the real winners were us, the fans.

At least that’s what I tell myself as I sob myself to sleep for another night…

Standing ovation

The third test was such a great game, too. It was played with a World Cup intensity, and neither side could be too disappointed about how they played.

The Irish threw their big ballrunners at us for the first 60 minutes, and we somehow held the line. The score was 17-9 at that point, but it could easily have been 30-9. Conor Murray was marshalling his forwards and hitting them flat at full speed – Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, CJ Stander. A full-frontal barrage that many teams would have been unable to halt.

Somehow we turned the tables, and finished the game with a wet sail as we did in Brisbane and Melbourne. Instead of Furlong, Toner and Stander it was Tolu Latu, Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Tui charging onto the pill.

I’d encourage you all to watch the game again, it was genuinely one of the best games I have seen. The error count was low, the physicality was great, the set piece was hotly contested. It was rugby at it’s finest… if we don’t talk about the TMO.

So let’s pause for a minute and bask in the glow of an amazing series played by two good teams. I’m not sure anything will be able to top it until the World Cup.

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

At the ground

The atmosphere at Allianz Stadium was incredible. The stadium announcer did a great job over the speaker, and the Irish crowd down the Southern end were brilliant. Everyone was wearing green or gold, and it was bloody great to be a part of it.

The stadium experience, though, left a lot to be desired. It just can’t cope with a crowd of 44k. It took me 15 minutes to get to the turnstile, and another 10 to get to my seat. God help you if you wanted to go to the loo or get a beer. Getting out was a similar hassle.

The organisers owe a great debt to both teams – nobody could feasibly say they didn’t get value for money.

The Coach

Let’s get down to details, and we’ll start with the performance of the coach. Michael Cheika and his team were on the ropes at the end of 2017, after a few insipid performances characterised by odd selections, brainless tactics and appalling discipline.

They have bounced back really well, and rebuilt the fortunes of the team. It’s hard to find fault with the teams that were selected – he was patient and allowed combinations to build, and his decision to elevate Lukhan Tui in the final game was inspired. The bench was used strategically, and we absorbed the injuries to Will Genia and Michael Hooper as well as could be expected.

As for the tactics, I think we’ve left ourselves room for improvement though it was a noticeable step up from last year. We mixed up the point of attack well, and our accuracy at the breakdown was impressive. In particular, our defence was laudable, only conceding three tries across the whole series.

Our kicking game still needs work, and our backs were too flat in games 2 and 3. Our discipline is better but we are still prone to conceding 2-3 mindless penalties every game. And in those final minutes we lacked the patience and composure to put the game to bed. It’s a mixed bag, but heading in the right direction.

The Players

For a group who only assembled at the start of June, they handled themselves fairly well.

Our forward pack played with a physicality that is great to see. Adam Coleman and David Pocock are genuinely world class players, and lifted the team time and time again. Our front row unit (starters and bench) did everything that could be asked of them – our scrum was clearly superior and our lineout improved exponentially as the series went on.

Lukhan Tui was the revelation of the series though. His performance in Sydney was that of a future star – taking nine hit-ups and making metres on every occasion. I can’t wait to see him against the All Blacks, and if he can adapt his game to a faster, looser environment.

Our backline were stifled by the impressive Irish defence, and after starting impressively in Brisbane they fell off the pace in the final games. Bernard Foley is a riddle wrapped in a conundrum. He does some things so well – his short restarts to Israel Folau are brilliant, his grubber to Marika Koroibete was pinpoint and his defence has noticeably improved. But when cool heads were needed he was below his best. We know what he’s capable of in the big moments, and it was disappointing that ‘the Iceman’ didn’t step up when the game was on the line.

Samu Kerevi showed flashes of what he’s capable of, but I think he was a little too quiet across the series. Likewise Israel Folau, who struggles when he’s not running in wide open spaces. But in Koroibete and DHP we’ve got two bloody good wingers who rarely make mistakes.

We’ve got depth and we’ve got skill, and even a bit of mongrel. Now we just have to win some bloody games.

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes


Let’s take a moment to acknowledge Joe Schmidt and this great Irish side. It’s easy to forget they were without Rory Best, and then lost Garry Ringrose, Dan Leavy, Sean Cronin and a few others along the way. Not to mention stand-in skipper and standout player Peter O’Mahoney who departed early in the decider.

They play a narrow, physical style that strangles you like a boa constrictor. Wave after wave of attack, marshalled by Murray and Sexton who I’d argue are the best 9-10 in rugby right now. Even with a changing side they produced their best games when it counted, and can be really optimistic about what the future holds.

The series was also played in great spirit, without the incidents and niggle that was seen in the two other Southern Hemisphere series this month.

Well played Ireland. Enjoy the warm glow of victory, and remember what it feels like. You are going to need to draw on these memories when you’re knocked out in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup… again.

The officials

I don’t want to harp on this too much, as it’s been covered well elsewhere.

My only observation is that the three referees that have taken the whistle this series have performed pretty well, but have been sorely let down by the TMO and by World Rugby. Yes the men in the middle have missed a few calls, but that’s rugby. It happens and it always will. Tolu Latu was unlucky in the 76th minute, but we had a few go our way as well (Pocock won a holding penalty when he was on one knee).

Sadly the game on Saturday was once again marred by mindless stoppages that were never explained to those in the ground. It deflated the atmosphere on at least six occasions and it needs to stop.

Get. Back. In. Your. Box.

On to NZ

Can we beat the All Blacks? I don’t know. They have stuttered a bit in their series against France, but won every game quite comfortably.

After the last two Sydney Bledisloes I don’t have my hopes up. If we can go into half time down by less than 30 I think I’ll be happy.

If we can play to our best we have a side capable of beating the All Blacks, and for once I think we can do it by beating the living daylights out of them in the forwards.

I’m feeling good about our team though. I’m feeling good about the game. We lost the series but the usual emptiness and frustration isn’t there for some reason. Just another turn on the emotional rollercoaster that is supporting the Wallabies.



  • the fact that the only criticism of Kerevi we can find is a win for Kerevi, the coaches and the other players. I had real fears for him in a backline with so many other fragile defenders. Kerevi, Foley and Beale stepped up and the coaching staff put them in a system that could work. Great work all round.

    You’re dead right about the TMO’s! They should get back in their box’s. So many of the things sucking the life out of our game could be dealt in video review and not in the heat of battle. It’s time to review the role of the TMO and get rid of the ‘check check’ call unless it’s for dangerous play.

    • Brumby Runner

      Sully, I was more than happy with Kerevi’s performances at 13, but I still believe No 12 is his correct position. He has improved his one on one defense but I’m not sure that he is taking charge of the backline yet in defense. He tends to charge out of the line and sometimes makes a mess of the tackle. But when he hits, he hits hard which is what I like in a 12.

      I’d like to see Kerevi at 12 partnered by Rona at 13 in some of the upcoming tests.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I agree Kerevi played well. I still would prefer him at 12, KB at 15 and Folau at 14

  • laurence king

    Excellent article, thankyou. I like the players that Cheika has assembled in our squad. We are noticeably stronger in the forwards, hooker is no longer a cause for concern, nor tighthead. Tui is going to be a great player. No. 8 is still a concern and I’d like Timu to be given an extended run there or Dempsey when he is back from injury. We have quality backs but there were problems. It is nothing new to say that we have a problem at 10. Foley good player that he is, wasn’t able to execute the kicking game-plan to consistently worry Ireland. If Sexton and Folau were on the same team, Sexton would have bombed the opposition into the stone age.
    Kerevi should have been in closer or not there at all and we needed a better exist strategy so I think Hodge (I’m not particularly a fan of his) should be outside centre to allow Australia in the opposition’s half more often.

    • Braveheart81

      I haven’t seen Hodge play a decent game at outside centre. He’d need a lot more experience there at Super Rugby level before I’d consider it at test level. I think Beale and Kerevi are starting to form a pretty decent combination and finally their defence is working.

      I’m not sure Timu will get another crack for a while. He was the quietest of our backrowers through the series and Tui took the starting position in the third test. I expect our first choice backrow in the Rugby Championship will be Tui, Hooper and Pocock with Samu on the bench.

      • laurence king

        I can’t say that I disagree with your observations about Hodge, it’s just that I think we need someone with a decent boot. I would agree about Beale and Kerevi’s combination, I would simply bring them both in one position. If you don’t have Hodge at outside centre, maybe Rona as I do believe that he’s a very good player.

        • Brumby Runner

          Beale at 10 and Kerevi at 12 would give us better kicking options as well as arguably better game management. Kerevi needs to be encouraged to take the long kicks for field position, not necessarily touch finders at this stage until we can assess his accuracy. He certainly has a shit load more distance than Bernard.

          Beale has some obvious issues at 10 and at 12 with his crabbing runs. Sometimes they open up a gap in the opposition but more often they end up leaving the outside backs with no room to move or just take them out of the game altogether. But Cheika is now using Folau as first receiver in many backline moves, and that if continued would take some pressure away from Beale in the pivot spot. With Rona at 13, it could work perhaps better than the Foley Beale, Kerevi 10/12/13 combination.

        • laurence king

          I wasn’t aware of Kerevi’s ability to kick distance, and that being the case I feel Rona outside would be good. He runs good lines, and generally is a classy all rounder.

  • 22DropOut

    One observation I have from the games is, what is the point of the Gold Brigade zone? The Irish had similar zones in each of the 3 games, behind the opposite goal, and were constantly singing, standing, chanting, creating an atmosphere. The gold end was the polar opposite.

    If you are going to get tickets in that area at least make an effort ffs.

    • Braveheart81

      I was sitting there and it was disappointing how quiet most people were. The first season they did it there was a strong campaign around it and lots of people got into it. Now it is just another seating area and at a sold out game those seats are the best of that price range of tickets.

      • 22DropOut

        Maybe RA should encourage some sort of fan group who will organise things, and distribute ticket for the zone through that? It’s a wasted opportunity.

        • Mica

          Ha ha ha – RA organise.
          Nice one 22 :)

      • 22DropOut

        Maybe RA should encourage some sort of fan group who will organise things, and distribute ticket for the zone through that? It’s a wasted opportunity.

    • HK Red

      Group singing/chanting at Rugby has never been an Australian thing. When it’s forced, it very obviously is, just that.
      Ireland (and many European teams) on the other hand, have a history of singing/chanting at a club, province and national level. It’s something they’ve been doing for a long time. So it’s quite obvious that travelling fans and the diaspora will happily sing along in one voice, just like they do at home.

      • 22DropOut

        Good point.

        It does beg the original question, what is the point of this section then?

        • HK Red

          I guess it all started after the first game of the 2013 B&I Lions tour, when the ARU panicked upon seeing the sea of red jerseys. It was almost embarrassing they way they tried to block out sections with yellow cardboard, handed out free scarves and pith helmets, just to try and get a bit more yellow in the ground. I don’t mind if a large group of Aussie supporters sit together. Who cares? If they’re ever going to organically find their voice, then sitting together is probably not going to harm those chances.

        • Braveheart81

          I think encouraging more people to wear Wallabies gear and/or handing out hats is a good move. Part of our problem is that a lot of people go to games dressed like they’re going to the restaurant or bar before/afterwards rather than wearing supporter gear. It makes a real difference to the visibility in the crowd and the reality is that opposition fans always wear supporter gear.

        • HK Red

          The handing out hats/scarves was a pretty cringeworthy and desperate move at the time and was called out as such. In the end though, I’m glad we all got embarrassed into supporting our team by wearing the colours. Prior to that tour, we just didn’t seem to bother that much. It seems to have spilled over into the SR arena as well, which is great to see.

        • Braveheart81

          No doubt. If only we could get people to make some noise now.

  • Happyman

    Congrats to Ireland. Without a Ten we are going to be in serious trouble going forward. I would strongly suggest if we had a ten of Sextons quality it they would not have gotten within twenty in any game.
    Our ten just does not have the quality or game intelligence to make changes or play what is in front of him.
    After Willy G our nine stocks look only OK when you compare it to Murray.
    I honestly believe 1 to 8 and 11 to 15 we are the equal of any team but we lack the necessary intelligence to break well organised opposition down.

    • Braveheart81

      It’s definitely an issue. The problem is Foley is clearly the best option. The other three Super Rugby sides are also struggling with the position and chopping and changing trying to find their best option. Hopefully someone really good emerges in the next couple of years. None of the young options who have come through in the last few years have been good enough at the under 20 age (Debreczeni, McIntyre, Mason, Stewart) to suggest they will be outstanding test players by the time they are in their mid 20s.

      • Brumby Runner

        BH, have you been watching Andrew Deegan play for the Force this year? He has been more than just good against the lesser sides, but his composure against a Crusaders team that contained a shed-load of Super rugby and test match experience was a bit of a revelation. He has matured in his game management and controls the backline with all of its deficiencies to at least be competitive with high quality opposition for much of a game.

        He has an attacking spark himself, a better than average kicking game (witness the infield kick against the run of play for Rocket Rod to chase – and would have scored had he nudged the ball to the tryline rather than trying to pick it up at full pace) which I have no doubt would consistently outdo Foley for distance and accuracy, and his defense is quite aggressive and very effective.

        In total, he is perhaps a couple of years ahead in his development than are Stewart and Mason, and would be more likely to be ready to perform at the highest level by RWC time if he is brought into the squad for the RC and EOYT tests as backup to Bernard.

        • Braveheart81

          Yes, Deegan has looked pretty good. I think he is going to struggle to get selected from the Force though. Most of their games have been against pretty low standard teams. I don’t know how you can describe his play in a game where they got flogged as a revelation. That was still a Crusaders side with most of their best players missing and a few debutantes.

          My take would be Deegan would need to move to a Super Rugby side to gain Wallaby selection anytime soon. The standard of games just isn’t high enough with the current Force schedule.

          I’d agree he is ahead of Stewart and Mason in terms of development as he should be. I see that changing unless he moves.

        • Brumby Runner

          So, is it just lip service for the RA and Cheika to suggest that Force players will be eligible for the Wallabies?

          Deegan’s all round game against the Crusaders, a side that was very strong with SR and test match experience to burn, was a revelation to me. I had liitle time for him a couple of years ago, but I think he showed that he has come on in leaps and bounds with his variety of play and especially in his very strong defense.

          I believe he is now well in front of any other prospective, young No 10 in the country and he and the Wallabies would benefit from his inclusion in the upcoming squads where he could be good cover in case of injury to Bernard Foley.

          I think it is unfortunate if he has to find a spot in a SR squad in order to get noticed at the national level, however I will take up the challenge on the Brumbies thread to get him over here.

        • Braveheart81

          No, I don’t think it’s lip service. I think that the quality of the games and opposition is taken into account. It will be interesting to see if he continues to be a revelation in the NRC. Hopefully he does.

      • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

        I know this is an old subject… but I would have loved to have seen QC playing behind Genia and the forward pack we had this series!

  • LED

    I agree this was a cracker of a series but theres a consistent bee in my bonnet about the Wallabies play that I’m surprised isn’t being mentioned. Interested in others thoughts on this. Its about the predictability of our attack. By that I mean each game we chose at best one or two tactics and just do it over and over (eg Folau in the air). We lack the ability to employ a greater range of tactics that are inherently more difficult to defend or create unpredictability.

    A fast bltiz defence from Ireland clearly troubled us all series but it doesn’t look like we really adjusted over the series to handle this. Its not all in the hands of Foley. Look at the Wallabies stats on the Tuesday article on GAGR and you can see that our offloads are seriously lacking which would have been one answer to break the rush-up. We remain one of the lowest teams in terms of offloads consistently and this has to be in the hands of the coaches. In other words against a known strong defensive side we never chose to deploy a range of tactics that would break this down. We tried to put Folau up in the air and when this didnt work, there was little else tried other than 2nd line attack to the wing every test.

    We also didn’t try many inside balls. Look at the try NZ/Ioane scored in test 3 against France to break down the French rush up – it was beautiful. The Wallabies are capable of the exact same play but didnt seem to try it.

    We’ve goto be more creative. Offloads, inside balls, grubbers in behind (which worked in the Korobeite try), as well as up and unders and 2nd line plays. Maybe we’ll get there with more prep but I think most sides around the world see Australia as rather predictable right now.

    • Kokonutcreme

      I was thinking the same thing LED after the series.

      Does anyone believe the combination of Beale and Kerevi in midfield worked as effectively as was hoped for in this series?

      Both players are dangerous attacking individuals but I’m struggling to think of any time during the final test that the Wallaby wings were released into space. In the first test, tactically the Wallabies got it right, using Folau as the first receiver from set piece to hold the Irish defence in close, and then with two quick passes wide outflanked the Irish line.

      I was waiting for the bait and switch where they’d set up Ireland to expect that and catch them out with a variation on that theme but it never eventuated.

      • Hugh Cavill

        They did that in Sydney – Folau at first receiver FINALLY threw the ball short to Kerevi and he made a linebreak.

        • LED

          Yeah this is sort of my point. The tools are all there but never brought together in a single game. Coaching? Foley? Not sure of the reason.

    • Brumby Runner

      An inside pass from Foley to Beale led to Beale’s try in test 2. Why it was mostly put away after that is really incomprehensible.

      Kerevi at 12 would offer more opportunity for off loads imo. Just doesn’t get the ball in situations with options in support when he plays at 13, but in 12 would be another matter.

    • Richard Patterson

      Interesting points. It feels over the past 2-3 years in professional rugby defensive systems have evolved faster than attacking systems. It’s not the 1st time – doubt it will be the last. A backline that plays deep and conservative behind the gain line to give themselves time and space is fodder for modern day defensive systems who adopt any number of 2-3 strategies to shut it down. What it has forced is backlines to play much flatter and much closer to the gain line — reducing the time defences can react. The offset has been the rush defence which has further reduced time and space and meant play at the gain line now often resembles something close to an NFL scrimmage where bodies go everywhere and hopefully a pass sticks and a seam opens up. The NZ/Ioane try was a nice example. Rush defence is all fine – until their accuracy distorts and holes get penetrated. As attacking patterns get further refined this will emerge as a feature of the upcoming RC and the RWC next year. Good luck though having guys in your backline that cannot operate instinctively, cannot operate with soft hands or cannot have the gift of time to hold up a defence and then exploit it with either speed of foot, hand or an offload. It will be the single biggest reason why certain players cannot transition from NRC to Super Rugby and from Super Rugby to test Rugby. I think it makes for fascinating viewing in the coming 12 months.

  • HK Red

    It’s definitely a fine line and we played very well to be so close to a very good Irish team. If that last pass had stuck however and we won the series, I would have been jumping around screaming my head off like a madman. Once I’d calmed down however a hollow feeling would have descended…….1) because I fully believe Ireland were the better team across the series and 2) because it would have papered over the many issues that persist with this squad, that never seem to be addressed.

  • Brumby Runner

    “Bernard Foley goes for glory with a speculator pass, but it wasn’t to be.”

    Not sure if you mean it this way Barb, but that comes across like another excuse diminishing his responsibility for a fuck up by Bernard. He should not be excused in the slightest. The pass could have gone to either of two players on his outside but didn’t get within cooee of either. Glory would have sat nicely on his shoulders had the pass actually gone to hand and a try scored. As it was, only shame should be directed his way. If it is claimed he was put off by the winger attempting an intercept, then the response is that he should have made the pass a little earlier when the Irish winger wasn’t a factor. He cracked under pressure.

    Otherwise, a good summary of the series.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Go back and watch that play again – nobody covered themselves in glory. Putting it all on Foley would let a number of people too easily off the hook, though the pass was poor and shouldn’t have been thrown.

      But as I said, he didn’t deliver the ‘iceman’ performance under pressure he has in the past, for sure.

      • Brumby Runner

        I did as you invited Hugh. You are way out of line saying that others were also responsible and that blaming Foley was letting others off too easily.

        The sequence of play started with the kickoff, fielded by Folau 11m into Irish territory – excellent play.

        There followed a couple of hit ups to the blind side leading to a run by Tupou to take the attack to about 14m into Irish territory – all good.

        Then DHP makes a run and part line bust to 20m into Irish territory – excellent play.

        Tupou then takes the ball to the 20m line – again excellent play.

        Folau joins in again with a run to about 15m from the tryline – excellent play.

        Then the ball comes out to Beale who crabs but off loads to Foley to get to 6m out from the tryline and then throws the poor pass into touch.

        Every ruck was quick with quick accurate ball from Joe Powell to the next runner. The only marginal play in the whole sequence was perhaps Beale putting pressure on Foley by crabbing. Foley, however, was ultimately solely responsible for that play breaking down.

        Perhaps you need to look at it all again without your favourite Foley glasses on.

        • Hugh Cavill

          I’m only speaking about the last phase, not what led to it which I agree was outstanding from all concerned.

          I disagree that Foley was ‘solely responsible’, and I think Beale crabbed too far, Kerevi timed his run poorly, Timu and DHP were way too flat, Aki made a great read as did Stockdale to shut down the play.

          But of course you bring it back to ‘favourites’ and allegations of bias. All class, as usual.

        • Brumby Runner

          Maybe had Foley released the pass a fraction earlier Kerevi might have been in an ideal position to take it on to the try line. Stockdale was already committed to coming in off Kerevi to try for the intercept, leaving a hole outside. Foley received the ball maybe 10m or so out and ran it to almost the 5m line. He had opportunity to release it earlier to the support players who, assuming the pass was accurate enough, would have had a clear run to the line.

          Kerevi was not responsible for the failure of the movement imo.

          I thank you for your kind comments about my class. I will continue to show my class as long as others continue with their outright biases.

  • VO

    Bernard ‘the Popgun” Foley, what do we say? What do we do?

    Sitting at home in Surry Hills on Saturday evening watching the channel 10 coverage, I could hear the crowd singing (Irish fans of course) I turned to my Aunt who was watching the match with me and said ” watch Bernard Foley mess this up”,
    not 20 seconds later the unnecessary pass to touch was playing out before our eyes.

    I then commented “Bernard Bernard Bernard what are we going to do
    with you? ” It is time to answer that question as I can’t see him
    leading the Wallabies to being 2019 World Cup champions, and yes there
    is no one knocking on the door to tack his position under the current
    eligibility requirements.

    This has been a festering sore for the Wallabies for awhile now, the
    Wallabies and to a certain extent the Waratahs use of Foley has
    concerned me for more than a few years. To think that he has an
    international 7’s background is beyond me.

    In modern Physical Education practice there is a pedagogy called “game
    sense” that focuses both on developing the physical skills and
    strategies and tactics of a sport, it is here that Australian rugby is dramatically
    failing across the board.

    In the last 5 years I have been involved in rugby as a spectator of
    Sydney club (go Marlins) Super (Viva La Force) and test match rugby, as
    coach of schoolboy 15’s & 7’s and schoolgirl 7’s in Sydney and
    regional Qld. I have 2 cousins involved in the exciting and developing
    women’s rugby programs in 7’s 10’s and 15’s at a state level and I have
    taken to watching the girls series with gusto, where I see teams playing
    a style of rugby not suited to their developing skills, for example
    back lines spaced further apart than the players can pass, adopting
    kicking tactics not suited to their kicking abilities, I put this down
    to it mainly being male coaches used to coaching players with a
    different skills set.

    With a background of Phys Ed teaching and coaching a sport at
    the state and international level, it is CLEAR and OBVIOUS watching all
    this rugby that Australian rugby lacks “game sense” or Rugby intellect.
    Australian rugby lacks Rugby intellect from schools to test level, both
    in the men’s and women’s games.

    I don’t believe in any sense Foley is the fly half to lead us, not
    because of his skill set but because how it is used. I pose a number of
    questions, to which I have no answer.

    Why do we persist in using him to kick for goal, his % success is low
    compared to other goal kickers at his level and he does not kick from
    further than 40m out, which pushes most other kickers % down.

    Why do we persist in him kicking for touch, again his punts rarely gain 20m in ground.

    Why do we persist with his sub standard kicking game in general play,
    yes it does come off now and then but mostly he is just giving the ball
    back to the opposition in a better position than they were.

    Why does his 1st option seem to be to kick the ball back after
    getting a turnover rather than running it or trying to consolidate then
    kicking it if need be? the counter attack was once one of Australia’s
    great strengths, but now a last resort. The All Blacks counter attack
    1st then go to plan B C D then maybe kick it.

    My perception is that very few times have i seen Foley take the game
    by the scruff off the neck, he is either very reactionary or adhering to
    the pre match script like his life depended on it.

    A little game sense goes a long way, and it is something we lack
    across the board. If Foley is to be our world cup 10 then utilize
    strategies and tactics that befit his skills, and do that across the

    You don’t pick players that don’t have the skill set to play a
    certain type of game, good coaching is using the strengths of your
    players limiting the exposure of their weaknesses to to the opposition
    this is done by designing and implementing strategies and tactics to
    suit your personnel.

    The best example of this was Eddie Jones great 2015 world cup victory
    with Japan over South Africa, he philosophy if we run them off their
    feet we will win, if we get into an arm wrestle lose.

    Please bring back Matt Toomua

    • Packy


  • Packy

    GAGR have some great writers. Thankyou Hugh.
    Any day Hugh writes something for us to read is a good day.

    Now if you could just get Missing Link to write some long pieces.

    • Hugh Cavill

      That’s really nice of you to say – thanks!

    • Reinforce

      While Packy is on a roll, I agree wholeheartedly. The first site I open in the morning is G&GR and thoroughly enjoy your musings.

  • I think one big difference between the teams was ‘game smarts’. Sexton, as annoying as it was at times, played the clock and ultimately came out on top.

    In the second half his kick over the top gave them the field position lead to the Stander try and he kicked it in a way that made it difficult to recover, especially as DHP and Koribete were defending on the same side and Folau had filled the spot on the right wing that made Phipps act as the sweeper that lead to a turnover and penalty.

    The penalty at the death took longer than allowed but he was never going to rush it and I haven’t seen a ref decline a kick at goal for taking too long.

    Ireland showed in Paris they will play to the final whistle and do whatever is required and went 41 phases but I can’t see the Wallabies being that patient to close out a game at this stage.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Well written Hugh. I think you’ve nailed some pretty good points. Foley needs work, Cheika is a great motivator and obviously the team likes him but a tactical genius he ain’t. Losing 2-1 against the No 2 in the world isn’t bad. Was at the last game and loved it apart from the experience of getting in and buying the beers. Thankfully no more.
    I think NZ have stepped up a notch to counter the line speed defence but I think your pack will trouble them more than it has in the past and it’ll be an interesting series.
    Bit of a downer going back to Super Rugby as I’m getting pumped for the RC. Wallabies have improved – apart from 10 – Boks are looking dangerous too so it should be a cracking series

    • Fatflanker

      ABs will pump us, but maybe not so badly in the scrum this year. We live in hope!

  • Fatflanker

    Great write-up. Seems almost unfair that we’ve tumbled down the world rankings at the end of such an exciting series. Bags of credit to both teams.

    Thinking about it, there was one thing about that last game that really has riled me. WTF do Australian television cameramen insist on zooming in on Cheika spitting the dummy in his box? In other countries the television teams actually work to support their home team…endless big screen replays of opposition offences, etc, etc. In Oz, we set out to help Cheika make a fool of himself and undermine the team. It’s a bit shit I reckon.

  • Steve

    Think you’ve missed a key point for me Hugh – is that the Wallabies’ discipline is costing them at key moments and negating a lot of their great play.

    The coach should be owning up to this but it never seems to get a mention (can’t help but think that it is reflective of Cheika himself, as his teams seem chronically ill-disciplined).

    Coleman in particular has a lot of trouble seeing the line between hard-nosed and ill-disciplined play. He certainly has the potential to be ‘genuinely world class’ but at the moment is pretty hit-and-miss.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Do you watch the press conferences? Cheika has talked about this on a number of occasions. A quick Google reveals this quote after the second test: “I know we scored three tries to two but we need to trust our system a bit better. We have given away some soft penalties. In fact we gave away too many penalties full stop.”

      And from memory Coleman has given away one penalty this series. A bit harsh to call him ‘hit-and-miss’ on that basis.

  • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

    The biggest take aways for me are
    – Massive massive massive improvement in defence this year over last. I’m curious to see how it will hold up in the Tri-nations.
    – Scrum dominance against a team that was touted to dominate us. Both our starters and our finishers were dominant. Bloody awesome.
    – Lineout improvement. Our lineout was a weak point last year, and started out scratchy in the first test. By the third test it had become almost dominant and we stole at least 2 of theirs, and secured all of ours.
    – How many restarts did Folau steal!!! Schmidt must have been pulling his hair out.

    Of course, there are many ongoing issues that still need fixing, and quite a few other positives that we are used to seeing, but all up, I think we have improved a lot over last year. It was a very fine line between winning and losing this series, and if we’d had a little more luck go our way, it would have been a win, and we would all be crapping on about how great a performance it was. But we lost, and so there’s a lot of negativity. I’ve got my optimist hat on at the moment, and I’m giving credit for the improvements that have happened in a short camp. I’m waiting to see if anything else gets fixed for the Tri-nations.

  • Richard Patterson

    A very well written summary Hugh. Thank you.


Can't write, can't play.

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