Monday’s Rugby News celebrates and covers everything from the incredible match that was Bledisloe I, wraps up the action from clubland and the Force’s trio of re-signings.
What a match!
The Wallabies have shone in Dave Rennie’s first outing as coach, managing to nab a 16-all draw against the All Blacks.
Flyhalf James O’Connor looked to have sealed victory, but the home side levelled through Jordie Barrett with 90-seconds left on the clock when Rob Simmons was penalised at a maul.
Both sides were unable to be separated after almost 90 minutes, with replacement back Reece Hodge hitting the post after a 55-metre penalty kick attempt.
Despite the impressive performance, Rennie admits that he wasn’t pleased with their discipline and lack of execution.
“We’re miles away from where we need to be,” he said.
“We let ourselves down.
“We found a lot of space in behind them, we had a lot of ball but the quality of our cleanout just wasn’t good enough and it’s an area we need to be better next week. We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post-tackle.”
Rennie laughed off the bold suggestion by one Kiwi journo that the Wallabies were now favourites to win the Bledisloe, admitting that he was pleased with his side’s sour reaction to the draw.
“We’re disappointed. We had a chance today and didn’t take it. We’re certainly not celebrating in the change room,” he said.
“It’s 80 minutes. We saw last year where the Wallabies hammered the All Blacks in Perth and then lost 36-0 the following week. For us it’s got to be how we back up.
“What I liked seeing was the disappointment of the guys in the change room.
“There’s three Tests left and we had to win three anyway, and we still have to win two. From that perspective, it’s not a bad result. Certainly not satisfied with a draw.”
One of the main taking points out of the performance was the impressive showing by debutants Harry Wilson, Filipo Daugunu and Hunter Paisami.
For me, Daugunu was arguably the Wallabies’ best, with his hard running style getting the ball over the advantage line on multiple occasions.
The stats seem to back that up, with Daugunu recording a game-high 108 metres to go with two line breaks, four tackle busts and a try.
Along with this, Harry Wilson immediately lifted to test rugby standard, refusing to be intimidated by the fierce All Blacks pack, cementing his spot in the side for the next decade or so (Maybe a slight over-reaction but I stand by it).
His Reds teammate Hunter Paisami was also solid in the centres, looking solid in defence as he caused a major turnover in the second half.
Their performances did not go unnoticed by the coach, with Rennie expressing his delight in how they performed against one of the best sides in the world.
“I thought they were all great today,” Rennie said.
“Filipo was fantastic. He scored on debut but he got a lot of ball in his hands and he’s going to get better and better.
“He’s a great athlete, he’s an aggressive tackler, he’s great post tackle and it’s exciting for those young men.
“Harry, I thought, was really strong.
“Hunter had a great game for a young man who wasn’t even sure he would play Super Rugby this year. Ends up starting in a Wallaby Test.”
With a fourth left on the bench (Noah Lolesio), the next generation of Wallabies are showing that they can match with some of the best.
As various competitions across the country get to the climax of their competitions, clubland threw up a bunch of brilliant matches.
The headliner for this came in Perth with the final of the Fortescue Premer Grade between Cottesloe and Associates.
The game headed to extra-time, with both sides deadlocked at 15-all at the end of 80 minutes.
In the end, it was Tobias Hoskins that would prove the game-winner, picking the ball up from the back of the rolling maul to steal victory for Cottesloe 22-21 in the final minute of extra time.
Meanwhile, in the championship division, it was UWA who would finish the season on a high, defeating Joondalup 21-17.
In Tasmania, it was all about Tarooma after they dominated Stags 32-8, booking their place in the final against the undefeated Devonport.
Heading across to the nation’s capital, an Isaak Fines master class powered Gungahlin to a 17-10 win over minor premiers Vikings, booking their spot in the final against Royals after the defending premiers accounted for Owls 27-14.
In the Coopers Premier down in Adelaide and it was Brighton who came out on top against Old Collegians 36-25, whilst Burnside eliminated Onkaparinga in a 54-24 shootout.
Up to Queensland for the Hospital Challenge Cup, Easts were narrow winners over Brothers, coming out on top 15-13 to snatch the minor premiership after Uni of Queensland were upset by Bond Uni 48-28.
Around the grounds, Sunnybank outgunned Norths 36-33 whilst Souths secured their first win of the year as they defeated Wests 43-38.
Finishing with the Shute Shield, Gordon cemented their spot as the favourites, accounting for Eastwood 29-24.
Meanwhile, Hunter was too good for Penrith 51-14, Sydney Uni dominated Two Blues 72-24, Warringah upset Norths 26-14 and Souths and West Harbour played out a 45-all draw.
Oh and Easts beat Randwick 81-24, but let’s not focus on that…
The Western Force have continued to lock up their playing roster for the future, re-signing backs Brad Lacey, Jack McGregor and Byron Ralston until the end of 2022.
The backline trio all played major roles for the side during their Super Rugby return, with Lacey excited to be able to continue playing for his home state.
“It means a great deal for me to be staying in WA. I grew up wanting to play for the Western Force my whole life,” Lacey said in a statement.
“To get the opportunity to stay on board for an extra two years to watch the team grow, as well as the WA pathway for local talent to grow, is an amazing accomplishment in my career.
“We have been given the chance to deliver performances that we and our loyal fans can be proud of. I look forward to that challenge the most.”
This was shared by McGregor and Ralston, who thanked head of rugby Matt Hodgson and coach Tim Sampson for their support and show of confidence.
“I can’t thank Sambo (Tim Sampson, head coach) and Hodgo (Matt Hodgson, head of rugby) enough for giving me the opportunity to stay in Perth and keep playing here in a state and team that I love,” McGregor explained.
“It’s a childhood dream to play Super Rugby, so to tick that off this year with this group was massive.
“The club has shown a lot of faith in me, especially as a 19-year old with only a handful of games in senior rugby,” Ralston added.
“To be amongst that NRC winning team was unreal, and then for them to continue to show faith and sign me on for another two years is really exciting, it feels like home.
“It was a childhood dream to go out and play Super Rugby. I took a lot of learnings from that experience and realise you’ve got to be on every single moment of every single play, which is the same for off the field with your professionalism and looking after your body.”