The Wallabies have finalised their World Cup preparations with a 34-15 win against Manu Samoa at Parramatta. It was not the Wallabies best display in their last hit out before the World Cup but they avoided the same result of 2011 and it could easily have been a bigger margin if they took more of their chances. The Wallabies were made to work hard for the final margin of 19 points with two late tries masking a scratchy display with Manu Samoa within reach at seven points during the second half.
Despite the mixed performance, there were some impressive displays across the board with Jack Dempsey having a strong game with some strong carries cutting through the Samoan line, aided by an equally cutting haircut. David Pocock was impressive in his first competitive match since March and played 58 minutes and got through without any affects from his calf injury. Marika Koroibete caused havoc with his strong running seemingly beating defenders with ease and scored a try and racked up 139 running metres.
It took a while for the game to get going but the Wallabies put the opposition on notice with a strong scrum early on and took advantage of a lineout error from the Samoans in their own 22 before Adam Coleman opened the scoring after seven minutes.
The Samoans worked hard for field position but gave it away too easily on half way and it took a mesmerising run from Marika Koroibete down the left wing as he evaded 3 defenders and two support players to run rings around the defence to score the Wallabies second try.
The visitors took their time to find some rhythm and thought they had scored to debutant Michael Alaalatoa but his try was ruled out as David Pocock was cleared out past the ruck. But an earlier penalty advantage allowed Tusi Pisi to make up for an earlier miss and make it 10-3.
Straight off the restart the Samoans undid their good work as they fumbled the restart and Matt Toomua grubbered ahead for Adam Ashley-Cooper to regather and score. Bernard Foley seemed to have left his kicking boots in the sheds as he missed his third shot at goal.
The Wallabies were employing a width game that had the Samoan defenders stretched on both sides of the field and the handling of the loose forwards in particular out wide made room for the fourth try of the half to Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. Foley finally landed a conversion to make it 22-3.
It was a different story for the Wallabies scrum in the second half as they found themselves on the backfoot on a number of occasions. Former Melbourne Rebel Paul Alo-Emile made a real difference when he came on and his impact saw the Samoans score their first try to replacement scrum half Dwayne Polataivo and that seemed to give the visitors a lift in confidence.
The Wallabies display got a bit loose with dropped balls, errant passes and other mistakes starting to creep in that would not have impressed Michael Cheika. That pressure allowed the Samoans to get back into the game with Polataivo scoring his second and reduce the margin to seven with 20 minutes to go to ensure a nervy last quarter of the game.
The Wallabies sealed the win in the final 10 minutes with two tries with Dane Haylett-Petty calming the nerve of Wallabies supporters with a converted try and after the final siren Matt Toomua scored the Wallabies sixth try of the night to make the scoreline a more respectable 34-15.
The Game Changer
The Wallabies skipped out to a 22-3 lead but during the second half they were pressured into mistakes to allow the opposition back into the game and it wasn’t until Haylett-Petty’s try with ten minutes to go to that ensured the win.
The G&GR MOTM
There were some mixed performances from the Wallabies but Jack Dempsey gets the nod. We know what Dempsey is capable of hasn’t been able to get back to that level after injuries but now he’s injury free, hopefully he can get back there.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Coleman, Koroibete, Ashley-Cooper, Salakaia-Loto, Haylett-Petty, Toomua
Conversions: Foley 2
Tries: Polataivo 2