Being a Queenslander, where our curtains fade slower and our cows are at peace with the world, I failed to account for Daylight Savings time when working off an advertised 10am kickoff for this match – so I missed the first seven minutes.
Thus my caveat: if something earth-shattering happened in that time, I missed it. I certainly tuned in to see Higgers already on the field for Kane Douglas and immediately feared how we’d fare in a war of attrition against the passionate Los Pumas at home.
My fears were quickly allayed. That’s not to say the battle up front wasn’t tough (it was) and that the result was to be a lay down misère (it wasn’t). What I saw though was a committed Australian pack and a backline that was actually doing stuff.
Oversimplification? Maybe, but the feeling among many punters that the Wallabies were consistently failing to chance their arm was rife (and complemented beautifully by Hux’s article earlier this week). All of a sudden in Rosario, Phipps and Beale had plenty of options and had only to pick one – a far cry from the one-out play that characterised our most recent performances.
It was a good win given the circumstances (injuries, travel factor) and our second place in the Rugby Championship will probably see Deans through to the Lions tour, especially given the ever-shortening lead up we have to prepare. Nonetheless, there is still huge room for improvement and we’ll have a mountain to climb against the All Blacks at Suncorp in two weeks.
Wallabies v. Los Pumas 2012 II - Player Ratings
|1. James Slipper||Unremarkable in his first shot at the starting guernsey in a long while. Got through a fair amount of work.||5|
|2. Tatafu Polota-Nau||Busy all day and tired late. Much improved lineout work and getting back to his best around the park too. His burgeoning afro continues to impress.||6|
|3. Ben Alexander||Busy but ineffective early, he warmed up as the match progressed. Notably put a kick through in the 33rd minute É and chased it well.||5|
|4. Kane Douglas||Subbed early for concussion. Did not return.||-|
|5. Nathan Sharpe||Mr Reliable again had his nose to the coal face and got through a lot of work, becoming Australia's most-capped forward in the process. Bravo, Sharpie.||6|
|6. Staleki Timani||Moved to second row after Douglas's sub. Again made good on his potential. Did plenty of the little things, with a number of line-bending runs up the Pumas' midfield. Continues to grow.||6|
|7. Michael Hooper||What a revelation in Wallaby colours. Hooper again was the pocket rocket of the team. He was in everything and showed some great skills. His 80m dash off a lineout steal was the cherry on top. His work at the breakdown is excellent, and his link play out wide is the best of any Aussie openside. David who? GAGR MAN OF THE MATCH.||7|
|8. Radike Samo||Samo continued his good form in Wallaby gold. He imposed himself around the park and gave good service at the scrum base. Showed his backs pedigree of years past a few times, cutting off some promising Los Pumas movements out wide.||7|
|9. Nick Phipps||Some commentators have already come out criticising Phipps' performance but I thought he was pretty good. Fast service in front of the man gave Beale opportunities. Quick ball and a decision made is better than meerkating any day of the week. Could have taken better options a few times, but that's rugby and the benefit of hindsight.||6|
|10. Kurtley Beale||Nice distribution. Not as flashy as last week but he had no need to be - his outside men actually gave him options. Kicking in general play was much improved.||6|
|11. Digby Ioane||Made good on his promise to get more involved, but many involvements were sub-par. Dropped the ball in contact a number of times and no longer seems to break the line like Digby vintage 2010/11. Not being a 'finishing' winger, defences know he'll turn back inside and lay in wait for him to do so. Ran a good line for his try in the 66th.||5|
|12. Pat McCabe||A typical Pat McCabe game at 12. Trucked it up, some distribution and solid defence.||5|
|13. Ben Tapuai||A mixed bag for Taps's run-on debut. A beautiful banana kick early in the second half characterised some of his subtler touches, and his defence was good. Seemingly butchered a try though with two men outside him. Nonetheless, he showed his promise in a testing environment (never played outside Beale, once outside McCabe - for four minutes).||5|
|14. Nick Cummins||The Honey Badger struggled to get involved for much of the match. Did well in defence and despite a few errors was solid.||5|
|15. Mike Harris||Harris's almost laser-accurate (hur hur) boot made things a lot more comfortable for the Wallabies, and he injected himself into the line a number of times to good effect. A handful of minor errors but a good display overall.||6|
|16. Saia Fainga'a||DNP||-|
|17. Benn Robinson||Fat Cat entered the fray at half time and finally showed glimmers of his old self. Destructive scrummaging was the order of the day, with some good work in defence topping it off.||6|
|18. Dave Dennis||So-so. Made a few good tackles when defending on the try line.||5|
|19. Scott Higginbotham||Higgers played the majority of the match, and did so with aplomb. He got stuck into the breakdown more than I've ever seen him do so before (necessary against this opponent) but still chose his moments to use his undoubted athleticism out wide. Ran a great, subtle line in midfield at one stage, generally befitting his play.||7|
|20. Liam Gill||Injected in the final ten minutes to operate in tandem with Hooper, Gill was solid without lighting the world on fire. Did well to slow down Argentine ball a handful of times||5|
|21. Brett Sheehan||Erroneously yellow carded within moments of stepping onto the field. Hard done by, but no time to make any impact.||-|
|22. Dominic Shipperley||DNP||-|
G&GR Patented Player ratings scale
10 – A legendary performance to go down in the history books
9 – Outstanding performance: Man of the match shoo-in
8 – Excellent all-round game
7 – Good game with a few sparkles
6 – Solid performance
5 – Average – ho hum
4 – Below par
3 – Had a bad game
2 – Tell your story walking pal
1 – A complete joke
Image care of SMH.