Wallabies Return to Playing Comprehensive Rugby

Wallabies Return to Playing Comprehensive Rugby

Wallabies Return to Playing Comprehensive Rugby

The Wallabies played good rugby last night against England. By good, I mean to an acceptable international standard and including comprehensive, skillful attack, solid defence and intelligence to know the correct tactic to deploy.

I refuse to get carried away with the Wallabies’ performance, despite it being a massive improvement when compared to the France game.

This is the first game for almost a year that the Wallabies have represented their country on the international stage and the code of rugby union in Australia with a complete performance. In that period, injuries, inexplicable selections, coaching tactics and player execution have robbed Wallabies supporters of anything remotely approaching a value-for-money experience!

Last night the Wallabies returned to comprehensive competent rugby.

The attack was multi-dimensional. Sharpe led with numerous straight runs in traffic. TPN and Moore did the same one or two passes out. Hooper ran into holes that give his speed a chance to make a difference. Palu made 16 runs for 56 metres. Timani was very effective out wide. Ioane ran straight as did AAC. Cummins’s eight runs often turned half-breaks into metres and on one occasion, his first Test try.

Beale got good passes from Phipps and chose the right depth and passing options to release the backline.

In summary, the attack was good. Yes, there is still too much kicking. But today, for the most part, the low percentage kicks, and in particular the chip and grubber kicks, often found space and were regathered by one of the Wallabies following the kick through.

When the tide of possession turned in England’s favour, the Wallabies’ defence was strong in the hit, well marshalled and reliable. The Wallabies’ breakdown contesting was excellent, but not error-free. Hooper and Palu led the way.

Statistically, the game was even. The telling statistics were that the Wallabies edged the line breaks 4 to 1 and missed fewer tackles — 10 to England’s 18. Possession evened out to 51% to 49% to England.

As for the television coverage, it often lacked the replay of interesting plays. Money is tight in free-to-air TV these days! Commentator Stu Barnes, a clever if unfit England fly-half, is clearly still carrying the scars of some maulings by the Wallabies in days gone by. His commentary exuded excessive and misplaced respect for the Wallabies that would have been more accurate and appropriate in previous eras.

England were their own worst enemies. They failed at the breakdown. They could not play at the Wallabies’ pace in the first half. Their scrum was as mortal and impotent as I have seen it in in 40 years. The likes of Moore, Ackford, Dooley, Chilcott and Beaumont would be embarrassed.

To the victor goes the spoils. Had England taken the points on offer from penalties, it could have or even should have been a different result. They didn’t. Cummins’s try was from a forward pass. The Wallabies won the game, protected their world ranking and live to fight another day. The rub of the green is the nature of sport, despite the technology now available.

This is not a victory to take to the bank. It needs to be reinvested back into the team. It does put the Wallabies back on track, but only until next week. Any relaxation or lack of intensity against the Italians could spell a disaster that Robbie Deans and his assistants may not survive.

In summary, the Wallabies put in a good performance in both attack and defence. England handed them victory by not taking the points when on offer.

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  • Johnny-boy

    “Timani was good out wide”. Thats gold ! One would be being generous to describe the English attack as one dimensional.

    • Timani ran in an outside channel, frequently. gold, as in good, bad accurate or inaccurate? Yep, england were struggling to match the pace of Aust and never really got into the game, except for one period in the 2nd half.

  • B-Rock

    Good summary LAS – unfortunately the Wallabies boom bust mentality will continue as most are not as level headed as you.

    Plenty of good performances from the wallabies but let’s face it – England were average at best, particularly in the forwards (scrum, breakdown, etc) and handing errors

    Still, a wins a win, coming at a good time for RWC seedings

    • B-Rock, thansk for the compliments. Yep, enlgand were average and could have iced the game with some penalties. pressure is pressure tho, and you take every win you get. The seedings are important.

      More important than I remember. historically, it wasnt an issue. now, with the closeness of the others, it is a very big issue.

      • Scotty in Devon

        Having lived in England since 2000, I can tell you that apart from 2 years at most, England are a distinctly average team. What you saw the other day is what you get 90% of the time.

  • Pedro

    I think there is some English in you if you think that pass was forwards.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      It did look forward on one strange camera angle. But the assistant Ref was right there & the second camera helped show it as a good pass. Probably the best pass Phipps did all night.

      I also thought that late pass to Ashton was okay too. Must have been nothing in it. If that had of been allowed it would have ‘interesting’ as that guy is a bloody good winger.

      • Blinky, come on. it was miles ahead of the runner. Ashton is very handy!!!!

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Sorry LAS I can only call it as I see it. Our’s was fine but looked forward & the Poms looked fine but was BUT……..since they are English I will now call it well forward. There. Happy now? ;-)

    • bill

      I thought it was forward by half a metre, surprised the ref let it go as he was in a decent position, maybe 30 degrees to the rear of it, maybe that was enough to make it look flat to him. and I thought it looked thrown forward, very marginally, but still forward. I think they’ve earned their share of luck though.

      Owen’s performance was worth about ten years of luck, one of the best examples of a ref losing it, right alongside Bryce Lawrence vs the Reds this year.

    • The Other Dave

      This always comes back to conservation of momentum – Phipps was moving forward when the ball was passed, but was stopped shortly afterwards – thus the pass LOOKED forward to a stationary observer on the sideline. The big advantage that the ref and tjs have is that when they move with the play, it’s much easier to judge passes like Phipps’s.

      • Pedro


      • Beale is often caught by this phenomenon!!!! I took a line from the location that the pass was made and compared it to the point at which the pass was caught.

    • Well, pedro, I have both a british and aust passport and Grenadier Guards cufflinks!!!! but i am a card carrying aussie. the pass was at least 1 metre forward!!! and the honey badger is now a test rugby player and try scorer. I just like his no nonsense play. Inman will be the same. He is a big unit and has good footwork for a 13. an another Syd Uni rugby club “graduate”!!!!!

      • Pedro

        Let’s say it’s 1.5m forward, relative to the ground. That does not make it a forward pass. If Phipps is running at 6m/s and the pass is in the air for a third of a second. That would mean the pass could go 2m forward relative to the ground and still be “flat”.

        Of course you could argue the figures, but that is why the video ref doesn’t rule on forward passes.

  • Goldie

    I love the way the media potrays this win as heroic? Heck england played like a team of muppets and we played allright.But not convinced it’s a turn around, we keep deans until the next stuff up is all this win means.The last 10mins we continuely kicked the ball back to them, only luckily they didn’t know how to use it. Hardly competent at all imo.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      What gives with the way we reverted to the boot when ball in hand was working so well for us? I simply could fathom why we kept gifting England so much ball with the game in the balance. It was very nearly our undoing.

      Another thing that disappoints me is the praise for those low % frigging chip kicks we attempted. While the chips weren’t a complete failure, I am concerned that Kurtley & Co will get excited and start overdoing it at key moments.

      • Mart

        I agree in general totally about the amount of chip kicks. But with the rushing up/ mildly offside defense i think it was the right option in this case.
        The amount and execution would be where I’d question it

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Oh don’t get me wrong, I may not be a huge fan of them but chip kicks certainly have their place. It keeps the other team in 2 minds about their rush defense. I’d make 2 points, one is to use them sparingly and two is to be more accurate.

          Too often they are not lobbed into an area with lots of grass but instead close to a defender, thereby making an already low % kick that much harder again to regather.

        • Mart

          Yep very true. And when you do them to an Israel Dagg hitting them on the fly makes them even worse.

        • and there are other ways around a rushing defence. attack should alwasy have the upper hand, if smart.

      • Seb V

        In the past they have def over-done the chip kicks, but they’ve also under-done them too. They would have worked well against Frances rush defence, but they have obviously been told not to do them because of them over-doing them before. They need level head with composure who can pick the right moments for a sneaky chip kick. They did that well on England i thought.

      • redbull

        It is already well overdone. At least four back line players had a go at it. It appears to be the “set move” of the Wallabies back line.

        • did you see the highlights of the AB V Italy. no chips there. lots of great ball in hand movement.

      • Hi ya blinky, from roar days, long time no speak!!!! it is barnes first instinct. you could see him go for it and then check himself. Yep, they are low %, at best and need luck to come off and a good kick chase. that part was better last weekend.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Greetings LAS. Is it okay to mention another Rugby site on here? I think I spotted that Berrick moment to which you refer. He sold me on it & was hugely relieved that he opted against.

          Being honest for a moment, I think BB is an addict of booting the ball and looks for excuses to ‘have a fix’. But the defense was rushing me. But my outside man over ran. But it was slow ball. But, but, but.

          I could probably hack it if something good came from it. Such as we gained serious territory & the forwards took a steal on the line out. But frig me, it just seems we end up in a crappier position and the forwards have to fight even harder to win back the pill. Obviously I’m too dim to spot the tactic.

        • ah, all part of the big, happy, rugby family.

    • the brethren at Fairfax are quantity not quality driven, and Fox sports didnt provide their excellent software for either the french or england game. I dont get it. you come out with some clever stuff and then dont allow us to use it!!!!! value add and charge for it!!!!!

    • Big Ted

      Couldn’t agree more Goldie! One win and everyone is back on the band wagon. Better team cohesion due to players finally being picked in their positions is about the only thing to take from this empty victory. The Darkness would have done the soap dodgers by 30, and in the end, that’s who we are really trying to beat.

  • Brumby Runner

    I will take exception to your assessment of Sharpe. He is a penalty magnet at the breakdown, and a different, more pedantic ref would have crucified him, and hence the Wallabies. His hit ups are consistently the weakest I’ve seen. Many locks seem to think they have to go to ground as soon as they are touched by the defence. Sharpe is the consummate example of this play. Time for him to pull up stumps.

    Otherwise some good observations about the backline, but not one mention of Tapuai, who was the most damaging 12 we’ve seen in the Wallabies for a long time. I find this a bit mystifying.

    • bill

      Historically you’re accurate about Sharpie’s carrying the ball, but this year I think he’s been a noticeable improver in this area, struggling to stay up just a little bit longer to avoid getting isolated. He was shocking at it before.

    • Seb V

      Completely agree with the comments on Sharpe. And I have been a McCabe supporter for a long time but after that game Taps convinced me he is the best man for the wallabies 12.

      • McCabe is the brains. Taps has better footwork and is probably quicker but mcCabe is 110% every time……I jsut like competition for places!!!!!! bring it on.

    • Brum, “take exception”, thats pretty strong. I think he has attempted and partially succeeded in galvanising this baby team. last week was terrible but Brisbane and rosario were credible. he was at the helm and his experience came through. I was not a big fan initially but now, I am.

  • Barbarian

    Boooooo, crack a smile for once LES. We beat the Poms at Twickers. And we pantsed their scrum.

    I refuse to be brought back to earth by rational assessment of the game (although I disagree the pass was forward, it was made to look far worse by the camera angle- it looked fine on the overhead shot). Buzz Killington can knock on my door tomorrow. Or never.

    I am still smiling at work on Monday, and that is all I ask of the Wallabies. And I got to fire a few rockets up my Pommie mates. Thanks boys, now for those stinking Eye-talians!!!

    • barbarian, I’m with you but trying to remain balanced as I jsut dont know what we will get next week. the roller coaster is killin moi. yep, the glass is definitely half full!!!!

      I had a meeting with a Pom today. nice to be on the winning side of the ledger.

  • Nick

    Great insight. 2 bottom lines: 1. England were average – none of the ferocity of South Hemi teams. 2. We really did play “comprehensive and competent” rugby. Hooray to the return of variety and flair.

    • Yea, it just looked so much better, in an overall, intuitive sense. the plays were more competent but england were poor so it is not a performacne that either the boks or ABs would be very worried about.

  • Queenslander

    we defended very well. need a hooker who can throw straight, a half who can pass (the two along the ground in the first half in excusable) Pommies running the ball and going for line outs over goal kicks is what the Wallabies used to do. Chips and grubbers worked at times but a player should be dropped for attempting them in International football. Dear oh dear we really offer nothing in attack

  • Knocker

    LAS, As a pom, I thought your analysis and comments very balanced. England could have won if they’d taken the penalties and the pass was forward by about 2 yards (anyone doubting that should watch it again, see which stripe of mown grass the pass was released on and which stripe it was caught on), but it would have been a travesty if England had won. Australia were much more dangerous, running onto the ball from deep and getting round England forwards who were defending against backs. The English backs showed no attacking spark, lay too flat and were easily contained, even by forwards against whom they were mismatched. It was a thoroughly deserved win for Australia.

    • Pedro

      Where the pass was released and received would only be definitive if the passing player is stationary. See my previous comment. Or go look at any number of similar situations. Passes thrown at pace generally go forwards relative to the ground.

      • pedro, have a read of my latest post. it quotes a builder and his professional view of the pass you will love it!!!!

    • Is this the knocker of Singapore fame and erstwhile father of three and hubbie to Judy? if so, we know each other.

  • When I submit an article, I also email the link to my mates who are not so internet literate. here are some of the responses.

    THE QLDER: It seems that we are just marking time in international rugby and should make some large changes if we are to improve. I cannot believe that we have given away 2 kickable penalties in 2 games with international players playing the ball in front of the man who just dropped it – you would not see that in the 15D’s. Kepu’s penalty for going over the ball in the last minute against the All Blacks was a disgraceful waste. These are the mistakes of players who are not punished for their indiscretions. We have a whole bunch of good young players waiting. Bring them through now for the next World Cup.

    THE POM: Great article…I had the misfortune of being there at Twickenham on Saturday…pretty lacklustre from a Pommy POV….it was definitely a forward pass though….

    Going to the Boks and All Blacks games too….don’t hold out much hope for either of these either….

    Cricket not wonderful either…..oh well, you can’t win them all

    THE BUILDER: Only comment I have is relating to a forward pass, my understanding is you cant determine whether a pass is forward by projecting its path over the ground, as the ball & player are moving forward the ball is already moving in a forward direction over the ground, the sole test ( as I understand it is the ball must be passed backwards , ie it must leave the hands in a non forward direction ( flat or backwards). If they used the projection of path over the ground principle all passes at pace would need to be thrown about 1 m backwards.

    THE BARRISTER: Surprisingly insightful and balanced coming from you! Only joking, I thought it was a great article. Whether its a false dawn or the start of better things remains to be seen. Still makes the 1984 grand slam seem SUCH a long time ago…


Former non tackling fullback for Randwick, Uni of NSW and Roslyn Park, I am now a passionate rugby supporter and writer of more than 200 articles, principally on Rugby. Follow LeftArmSpinner on Twitter: @leftarmspinner or on Facebook: http://www.Facebook/leftarmspinner

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