Wallabies Vs Fiji - Match Report - Green and Gold Rugby
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Wallabies Vs Fiji – Match Report

Wallabies Vs Fiji – Match Report
Giteau copping a fijian

They said you pissed in the kava

The opening test of the season is always an exciting time. The unknown. The whole season is in front of us and we could win them all! The Tri-nations, the Bledisloe back where it belongs, flog the Poms, clean up the oirish, and it all starts with this Fijian entree.

If this first match of the season is anything to go by, it is going to be a corker of a season… However as I sit here writing this, I have Sam Stosur flying the Aussie flag in the tennis on the TV and the way things are going for her (by now you know how it went), clearly the sheen of the 49-3 score line is just a thin thin varnish on a match that showed we can put points on, but also that we are very frail.

Unfortunately, like the tennis, everything went a little wrong after the kick off.Kurtley Beale, playing in his run on debut, had forgotten how to catch a football.

The first handling error, a knock on, saw fellow debutant Salesi Ma’afu pack down against his little brother Campese, becoming the first brothers to scrum against each other in test history.

Another Kurtley blunder had the potential to see the visitors go in early, the only thing saving us was Sireli Bobo, with the line open appeared to get a case of the no-catchies that were going around.

Kurtley Beale scores his first try.

Beale - owns the 15 for life

The highlights of the first half were a try to Kurtley from a trademark Cooper cut out pass and a strong run from Horne, also put into a gap by Cooper, which saw him stopped just short of the line, however he managed to get the pass off to AAC who gave it to nowhere man Dick Brown (who had come up with an ingenious way to keep out of trouble, keep out of the game) barged over the line for a try. Gits converted to see the halftime score at 14-3, well short of most people’s expectations.

The second half took off much where the first ended, with a Quade Cooper try about 2 minutes in, from a display the Socceroos would have been proud of (perhaps it was the new jersey?).  Another try 50 minutes in came from a Pocock turnover, when he popped the ball to Ioane who went on a great run to the line. Shortly after that the Fijians received the first of two yellows, this one saw the no. 9 Vucago carded for infractions in the ruck.

AAC was forced from the field with an ankle injury (This will see him spend some time on the sideline, though at this writing it is unsure how long), bringing Mitchell on. Shortly after that, in a horror stretch, Ben Alexander was stretchered from the field with what appeared to be a knee (confirmed later as probable grade 2 medial ligament tear, which will see him take a few weeks out, with scans to confirm).

Ioane’s second try came when he gathered a loose Fijian kick and jinked his way through their defence to score under the posts.

The second yellow then came for Fiji when replacement Dewes lost patience with the defence and threw a punch (surprisingly not cited) at Aussie Ma’afu.

Rocky doing the vertical sidestep

Up Up and Away - It's SUPER Rock

The Wallabies continued on, slowly building momentum with Rocky being penalised for inventing the vertical sidestep (as he jumped into a tackle while threatening the line) before the last try of the match to Beale, after Cooper put Ioane close, for his double.

Gits kept a perfect ledger for goal kicking and considering the way the Fijians seemed intent on smashing him (usually without arms) it was quite an achievement. Nathan Sharpe was named Man of the Match, in a fine performance from the veteran which saw him solid in all the things he should be solid in.

So, the first test is done, the Wallabies have put the Fijians to bed 49-3, all is well in the world… or is it. It must be pointed out that we have developed (through injury) a bit of a scrum weakness, the Fijians at least held parity in the scrum, and some may say gained some leverage there. If these “minnows” were able to hold us, how are we going to cope with the upcoming Poms? During the press conference after the match, Robbie was asked if there was scope to bring in reinforcements from outside the squad, to which he replied a flat “No”. He said that Ben Daley was looking like coming back sooner than expected and he believed there was enough within the squad to cover. The scrum woes are only part of the story.  There was a familiar feeling of our pigs not wanting to wallow in the mud and get stuck in. How hard is it to find forwards willing to do the grunt work?

Great Wallabies debut from Robbie Horne, solid without overplaying his hand, but most importantly without making a mistake, which is a great pointer to the boy’s temperament. Dingo saying “He had a great outing, so willing physical presence, got through a lot of work, and went looking for some more”. Make no mistakes, he will be a long term test player (if he can stay fit), and Australia’s next great no. 13.

The early handling errors were put down to the boys being a little too enthusiastic,  denying dew was a factor.

Score details:

Wallabies 49
Tries: Digby Ioane 2, Kurtley Beale 2, Richard Brown, Quade Cooper, Drew Mitchell
Conversions: Matt Giteau 6, Quade Cooper 1

defeated

Fiji 3
Penalty: Taniela Rawaqa

  • Reddy!

    Make no mistakes, he will be a long term test player (if he can stay fit), and Australia’s next great no. 13.

    Until he pulls a hammy again, or we need to fit AAC, Hynes, Mitchell, Ioane all in the outside backs, or he starts losing form and gets dropped.

    Come on mate, Horne has played one test, made a break (but who didn’t?) and really has not done much in his professional rugby career up until now due to ongoing injuries – the way he has played so far could be as good as he gets, who knows?

    • That why the (if he can stay fit).

      Look at the way he plays, then remember he is only 20 and has had his professional time interrupted with injury, when that is considered, I think his stregth in attack and defence in one of the hardest backline positions warrants the hype.

      • Rob has superb acceleration and speed, and not deceptive speed like Hynes, he is actually bloody fast. I read he was the second quickest pro in Australia two years ago after Brett Stapleton.

        He’s not shy of a tackle, putting on some massive hits in defence against much bigger men. It’s not uncommon for world class centres to spill the ball when Horney slams into them head on. In his first Wallabies outing he was faultless in marking the (once) great Rupeni Caucau.

        Best of all, he has a solid grasp of the basics. He can catch, can pass, and has a nose for a gap. I can’t remember being as excited about a young Wallaby as I am about Rob Horne.

        Finally, his name is great for puns. So Horney, so Horney, Horney, Horney.

        • Louie

          Horne impressed me. like sterlo in the day but faster. very exciting

    • Batmann

      What do you mean he hasn’t done much in his professional rugby career? Try searching on youtube for some of the hits he put on in defence in only his first year and has played well whenever he has been on the paddock.

  • Groucho

    My own view is that Horne is Australia’s next great player. He is a specialist 13 as well. I don’t think he’ll be moved to make room for AAC, Hynes, Mitchell or Ioane, all back thre specialists who have played 13 a bit, but as Reddy! implies, he has to demonstrate that in his Wallaby performances.

  • Lance Free

    I think Will Chambers will be the next long term Wallaby 13. Horne isn’t robust enough – his hammies will keep letting him down, Tahu-like….. Actually, I’d prefer Diggers there as we have plenty of wing talent.

    Our international front row depth is meagre and I can see Mears, Thompson, Cole, Payne and Wilson giving us a lesson. Le Fuse mightn’t be the long term answer but he would surely be a quick fix now. I don’t think Ma’afu is up to it (yet).

  • darkhorse

    i think horne has the potential to be on of the game’s great 13’s but as things stand he is not our best atm.

    Like lance I reckon he isn’t robust enough. Can’t make the hard yards like AAC can, or will chambers could. He’s got the frame to bulk up significantly so that’ll all change.

    As you all say he did all the right things and made no mistakes. It’s clear he has the smarts. That is what makes him such a prospect. But when he was straightening the line, and going into contact I felt he was going to ground to easily for a world class 13. AAC would have made an extra metre or two, every time.

    Your 13 should have speed, ability to break the line and provide go forward when momentum is lacking (which it will be against good defensive teams like the blacks and boks). Horne is great in S14, but that’s mostly down to his amazing speed, which won’t come into effect as much in test level.

    Backline if all fit should be:
    Genia, Giteau, Cooper, Mitchell, AAC, Ioane, Hynes.

  • DrewB
  • Langthorne

    The only thing Chambers has over Horne is his physical robustness (thanks to his league career we know his body can take a pounding a keep going). It is a very important thing, but in all other measures Horne is either equal or better. If Horne does hold together I can see him being the first choice Wallaby 13 for a while.

    As for making the extra meter or two every time – it is not always the best option if it means being isolated.

    But really, the backs are fine. It is the forwards that are a concern. The front row is weak – if people are going to pull out the faint praise ‘Horne is good in S14 but’ line then the same could apply to the potential Reds front row: ‘were sometimes OK in S14 but [England are well known for having pretty decent tight 5s…]’

    All in all, the Wallabies did enough. The new faces showed they are able to do the job, so therefore warrant further opportunities.

    We’ll soon see how good the depth is in Aussie rugby. Bring on the Poms!

    • Scotty

      Of course Horne is better than Chambers. Chambers has only played about 8 professional rugby games. At the moment I don’t see quite the hype that others see in Horne. He is no where near the player I am most excited about. Genia have next great Wallaby written all over him, so he most definately would take this prize.

  • GregT

    One of the most impressive things about Horne is his defence. If he’s healthy he’s a great asset. Regarding the front row, what a mess. I loved the way Queensland played this year too — and S. Fanger was a revelation, but the Reds front row is not a test front row (just like the Brumbies — with the exception of of Moore). The best boofheads by far were the NSW beasts — and there’s still one available: angry Al Baxter. It’s not going to happen but it should.

    • Batmann

      Agree. Should we constantly look to the future and ignore the past at the risk of being embarassed at scrum time?

      • jason

        lets not forget the years of embarrassment that was the fuse in a wallaby jersey…

        • GregT

          He wasn’t an embarrassment when he devastated the Poms and all comers in the last two years … and he wasn’t beforehand as he learned the trade and got stuffed up the penalty bum by refs who, let’s face it, don’t know what every second scrum penalty is for (not necessarily the refs’ fault). He’s a victim of a crappy Australian scrum (out of the Jones era) and some hideous reffing. The Wallabies know they can’t risk it anymore so the line has been drawn in the sand. And fair enough, but don’t dump on the guy like the dumb arsed, ‘we will dominate you’ Saffers and the anxious Brits.

  • Robson

    I saw nothing in the performance of the front row which makes me fear England. No they didn’t dominate Fiji, because the fact is that Fiji had a damned good front row. Give them credit for putting up a great show against the Wallabies and don’t run around like scared chooks becaus they were good enough not to be dominated by us.

    Yes it was a blow losing Ben Alexander, but we do have props who will hold the fromt of the scrum where it needs to be when we come up against England. No we won’t dominate England either, but all we need to do is provide a solid platform. I believe that the cattle are there to do that.

    Rob Horne is a talent in my mind which is superior to Will Chambers right at this moment. Some of the best outside centres in the world didn’t have the block busting power that Stirlo has got, but are, nonetheless, exceptional thinkers, movers and creators – think Conrad Smith and Brian O’Driscoll. And if you think that neither of these two are worth metioning as class acts you need to take note of how many players they leave with a face full of turf behind them.

    I think Horne is cast in the same mould and although I like the robustness of Chambers, I don’t believe he has got quite the same vision and spatial awareness that Horne has. As for his hammies??? Well that is another aspect to this, but if he can go through this season without a hammie blowing on him, he is going to be right for a long time.

    Diggers at centre is not an option. Can’t read play beyond the next tackler and has limited vision. He also runs lines that are almost impossible for anyone else to follow. So when he goes to ground he doesn’t have the right support around him in the right position to take a pass in space. And when you see threequarters breaking into a gallop when they’ve cleared out from everyone, there are also doubts about their end speed over a distance too. To me Diggers is an out an out wing, who has sometimes been used at centre. He’s a great footballer for sure and he is a must for the run on side, but he’s not the centre that the WBs need to go through to the RWC with.

    The WBs had a scratchy start over the first forty and yes they need to start better than that against England. But their performance in the second half was very good indeed and if they kick on from that next weekend England are going to be in some bother.

  • Rugby Mad

    “nowhere man Dick Brown (who had come up with an ingenious way to keep out of trouble, keep out of the game”

    I think it was fair to say that Rocky was not in the game either. He looked flat and far from inspirational. I think this was telling when Pocock was replaced to give Hodgson his first long awaited cap. (Congratulation Hodgson, it’s been a long wait but you deserve it) Pocock was the only one putting in the consistant hard work and having any effect. Brown looked bewildered and Rocky looked like he couldn’t be bothered.

    I think Deans benched Pocock once the job was done and left Brown and Rocky out there to try and get into the game. Neither seemed hungry to be there. I think it’s time to move Rocky to 8 (only as he is better than Brown and the Captain), start Hodgson at 6, Pocock deserves to keep 7. It doesn’t matter who comes off as Mr Fix-It (Hodgson) can cover them all with a quick reshuffle if required. Have two guys who are hungry and hard workers where they can get stuck in and let Lord Rocky fluff around at the back until he finds his desire to perform again.

  • Rocky Elboa

    I am worried about our scrum this weekend, in fact I am worried about the forwards in general. we are looking a big weak up front and I think the Fijians asked a lot of questions at breakdown time.

    BUT, anyone who has been watching the GP, HC and 6N will know that England have there own issues up front. Just ask yourself who the England props are???
    David Flatman
    David Wilson
    Jon Golding
    Tim Payne
    Dan Cole
    Did any of them make a good account of themselves in the 6N? Did any of them play well in the GP or HC? In fact great hope Dan Cole didn’t even start in the GP final the other weekend

    Should we be worried? Yes because if we can’t stand up to this England front row the we are in a world of hurt come Tri-Nations

    • Robson

      I think we’ll stand up well enough this weekend against England. Let’s hope we don’t have too many more injuries afte it.

  • Burgess had a marvellous game at scrumhalf. Great passing, threatening around the ruck, good communication and cover defence. Genia is nowhere near in his league.

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@mrtimms

Steve Timms, He likes watching the odd game of Rugby, occasionally writes about it.. Proud member of the original Mudchooks.

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