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He can rest easy, but Deans isn't home free


Paul Cully

Big performance … Ben Tapuai puts the boot in.

Big performance … Ben Tapuai puts the boot in. Photo: AFP

The restless nights now belong to another coach from New Zealand. Two weeks into November, Warren Gatland is dealing with a crisis in Wales - they do them so well - and an inbox full of half-hearted Lions resumés.

The lack of creativity in the halfbacks and five-eighths among the Home Unions is stark and if the English pack is an indication of the level of forward beastliness coming Australia's way, then the Wallabies will sustain a few nasty scratches but no fatal mauling. They were kittens compared with the warriors from Manu Samoa at Cardiff.

At Twickenham, Australia were tougher, better prepared tactically, more comfortable with the ball, technically superior at the set-piece and smarter. The only pity was that they didn't put England away in a spell midway through the second half when fluency returned to their game. Better sides would have, the Wallabies will know that, and a 15-minute spell in which they went into their shells will no doubt feature in this week's preparations.

Toby Flood can only watch as Nick Cummins goes over to score his first try for the Wallabies. Click for more photos

Wallabies ease the pressure on Deans

Australia bounced back from last weekend's humiliating 33-6 loss to France with a brave win at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images

That will dovetail with familiar complaints about the Wallabies' attack, but you can't be greedy about the nature of your wins in Test rugby. An Australian side containing more flair turned up to Twickenham in 2010 and was promptly battered.

All of Saturday's outstanding players were in Australian colours. Michael Hooper stunned the hosts with his precocious gifts and tenacity, Berrick Barnes was tidy at the back, again comfortable under the high ball, and Nick Cummins is suddenly the form wing in the country. But there were two men who deserve a special mention: Ben Tapuai and Ben Alexander.

It took just six minutes for Tapuai to make his mark, making a half-break and popping an offload into the hands of Hooper. It set the scene for an afternoon in which his attack was promising and his defence was resolute. By contrast, his opposite, Brad Barritt, was anonymous and later replaced.

Breaking away ... Michael Hooper was impressive.

Breaking away ... Michael Hooper was impressive. Photo: AFP

Robbie Deans had, somewhat stubbornly, locked down the No.12 jersey for the unlucky, injured Pat McCabe but that decision may now have to be re-evaluated. Tapuai deserves a run at it. That left peg is a handy tool, too. A solution might have fallen into Deans's lap out of circumstance rather than insight, but objections to that will fade if two more wins are secured before home time.

If Alexander has had a finer hour in a Wallabies' jersey, it is hard to recall. It is worth remembering the scene that had been set for the Australian scrum. England fans had turned up expecting an Andrew Sheridan moment but got a rather green loose-head prop wearing purple and sporting a mohawk taking a lesson from a man whose scrummaging is not his best trait even in the looser environment of Super Rugby. Alexander had only one lapse of concentration, against the replacement Mako Vunipola - who looks to be a handful - but then reasserted control.

On the other side, Dan Cole, a Lions certainty, was a ball of frustration and source of cheap penalties after failing to get a cent out of Benn Robinson. About the same time in Rome, Cole's Leicester cohort Martin Castrogiovanni was getting popped up and pushed back by All Black Tony Woodcock. All in all it was a bad day for the image of the English premiership's set-piece men.

Deans isn't out of the woods, of course. The first thing you should do upon noting that the All Blacks put 42 points on Italy is forget the scoreline. New Zealand ran in a couple of neat late tries, as is their way, but the Italians were almost unrecognisably positive for an hour. They have binned the containment game plan used under Nick Mallett and looked immeasurably better for it. At least Australia have been warned because they are not good enough - nor would they be even with a fully fit squad to choose from - to drop off against any opposition.

And that is where the Wallabies find themselves at the moment: in a small group of teams, which also contains South Africa and France, more likely to beat each other than wrestle the crown off the All Blacks. There will never be a day when that is good enough for Australia, nor it should be, but it's a better view than Gatland is looking at.

Twitter @whiskeycully

53 comments so far

  • The Wallabies did go well, but I thought it was more England lost the game than Australia won it. The score line did not change for the last 23 minutes. England had the chance to win it but blew the opportunity by electing not to kick for the posts and collect 3 points on four occassions in the final quarter. England forgot that Australia are No.2 (or at least were) and would not be bullied into submission; Robbie Deans was very lucky again!

    Date and time
    November 19, 2012, 8:25AM
    • Are you reading the same news as me Simon? Give us all a break! Can Deans and the Wallabies ever satisfy the whingers? Even when they go well in a difficult away venue you criticise the opposition for losing the match, rather than giving praise to the worthy winner. Do you realise the winner usually wins because they play well enough to make the other team look ordinary, make mistakes, succumb to the pressure, etc?

      PJ man
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:33AM
    • "Robbie Deans was very lucky again", Robbie Deans was not on the filed playing. There were 15 determined Wallabies tackling their hearts out in that second half. They won that game based on pure guts and determination. Stop blaming Robbie Deans. We've seen how an understrength Wallabies team beat England, it proves the point with or without the best players, Wallabies are still competitive. Keep it up Wallabies.

      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:58AM
    • I wouldn't say Deans was lucky. There's WAY too much focus on Deans. The Wallabies scrapped & scraped through for a win but mentally & tactically they were better than The Poms.
      They toughed it out and even though it wasn't pretty it was a win. A win's a win and credit to them. Much improvement necessary but fact is, there's daylight between the All Blacks and the rest ... and The Wallabies are the only team to get close to the ABs.

      world in union
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 10:28AM
    • It is incredible how lucky Robbie Dean is, he was continually lucky with the Crusaders from 1997 to 2006, He has been continally lucky with Australia, taking us to 2nd place with a second string team who have been without some key players for a long long time. Australia won for crying out loud. Look what Samoa did to Wales ( Samoa beat Australia, Australia beat Wales). Presently the top 10 coutires apart from the ABs' show how close they all are. America will going rofessional soon so we see our world game get even stronger and more competitive. I ask again who will takeover, Ewen McKenzie has still only won one cup and been the periennial brides maid up till that win.Australia at present does not have any players that I believe woul make a world 15 at present , however we keep winning with this lucky coach.

      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 11:36AM
    • Totally agree with Simon_sez. England will be looking back at that game knowng they could have won it and if they had then Deans chance of staying on would have been slim. It was an improved performance by the Wallabies but one improved performance does not change the fact that Australia, despite some decent wins, have generaly been inconsistent and disappointing under Deans.

      I think it is still time for Dens to go, a new coach with some new ideas might freshen things up a bit.

      Well done Honey Badger for a good game.

      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 12:46PM
    • @ Taffy, sorry mate but lucky for over 10 years in the best provincial competition in the world and with the Wallabies? What exactly about the results he has delivered makes him lucky? I'm quite sure it can't be the mountain of injuries the Wallabies have sustained recently. He may not be the god like coach a lot saw him as before he came across the Tasman but he still boasts a tonne of imressive results over a sustained period of coaching. I don't think Deans has been the best coach however you still have to give him and the team some credit for the guts they have shown to bounce back after some gut wrenching results, I believe its grossly unfair to blame him when we have an off week (which is often) and call him lucky when they win.

      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 3:36PM
    • @ ZacZ - Really???? Can't you spot sarcasm when you see it??? Taffy was saying how can anyone be repeatedly labelled as being lucky when they have a long record of success. And yes, I do believe RD has been successful as a coach.

      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 7:16PM
    • Oh dear, ZacZ, you don't get irony, do you!

      No 2
      Date and time
      November 21, 2012, 1:22PM
  • Nick Cummins deserves to retain his spot. He has stepped up to the plate and is only going to get better.

    Date and time
    November 19, 2012, 8:35AM

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