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Wallabies also culpable in Bledisloe bloodsport

Tight Five

Stopped in his tracks: Wycliff Palu tackles New Zealand fullback Ben Smith during the All Blacks' one-sided Bledisloe ...

Stopped in his tracks: Wycliff Palu tackles New Zealand fullback Ben Smith during the All Blacks' one-sided Bledisloe Cup victory. Photo: Reuters

1. Hard questions for the Wallabies from top to bottom. It has been said many times that this is a wonderful All Blacks side but that does not exempt the Wallabies from any criticism after Saturday night. They were picked apart tactically, their depth exposed, and their hunger to keep the opposition to less than 50 points was jarringly weaker than the home side's determination to surpass it. One of those three factors can be mitigated - injuries have cut into the Wallabies' wing options - but it's harder to do so with the other two. Wycliff Palu and Sekope Kepu were badly caught out rushing the inside defender in the 22nd minute because it looked like the All Blacks had worked the tactic out. And Steven Luatua waltzed through too easily in the last minute to bring up the half ton. These are isolated examples but they paint the picture. Since Ewen McKenzie took over last year, the Wallabies are, on average, conceding 35.6 points per Bledisloe. To put that into some context, the All Blacks have only surpassed 35 points once in the six home Tests they have played against France and England in that same period - the 36-13 win against England in Hamilton in June.

2. The revolving door at No.9-No.10 may have a few more spins yet. Having backed Kurtley Beale for the first Bledisloe, McKenzie did the only logical thing and retained him for Auckland, but the No.9-No.10 combination surely won't look the same against the Springboks. Nic White hasn't really kicked on from his brilliant performance against the Chiefs in the first weekend of Super finals and having seen the two Argentine halfbacks cut the fringe defence of the Boks to pieces, it may be time for Nick Phipps's greater appetite for a dab here and snipe there. Bernard Foley, too, has looked at ease with his game and the Test arena with limited opportunities in the past two weeks. There was a lot to like in Beale's selection, but it has not worked out as hoped. 

3. Don't look at France, it will make you depressed. Israel Folau made 150 running metres on Saturday night. The next best Wallaby was Rob Horne, with 25 metres. Meanwhile, Digby Ioane and Drew Mitchell scored tries for Stade Francais and Toulon over the weekend. As did Bryan Habana, except the Toulon winger was playing for the Springboks. We know the Wallabies have said 1000 times the policy of not picking overseas players is not up for discussion, but we will keep banging on about it until at least some consideration is given to making it just a little more flexible. Guys who take up overseas contracts know they are jeopardising their Test chances, but if given the opportunity they'd be back in a shot to cover for the sort of mini-injury crisis depleting the Wallabies' wings.      

1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina) Click for more photos

Team of the 2014 Rugby Championship - Round Two

Paul Cully picks the best XV from the second round of the 2014 Rugby Championship. Photo: Getty Images

4. All Blacks' hard heads lead the way. Where do you start with this lot? They have magic in the hands and feet at No.9-No.10, the best young second-rower the world has seen in a while (remarkably, Brodie Retallick is still just 23) and the remarkable capacity to bring fringe players such as Ryan Crotty up to incumbent's level, rather than him dragging the rest down. But the performances of Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith still managed to stand out. There is so much intensity in their collision work, and purpose to every little decision (apart from one notable exception). That's probably the tip of the iceberg as well. All week they would have been barking out the orders at training. Neither played in Dunedin last year when the All Blacks also ran up a big score but conceded a few points, too. That difference showed on Saturday night.

5. Don't cry for them, Argentina. The customary hard-luck stories will be trotted out after their 31-33 loss at home to the Springboks, but they have been in this competition for three years now and they are big boys. They don't need the patronising. They didn't win because the Springboks had a better bench (Juan Smith is a wonderful story but his replacement Marcell Coetzee helped change the tempo) and were clinical when it counted. Argentina's scrummaging and short passing game among the forwards is outstanding - it was last year too - and they have a big left winger, young Manuel Montero, who looks like a real threat in some space. But they have flattered to deceive at the start of this competition before. Judgment is best reserved on what they can bring against the Wallabies.  

Team of the Week

1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)

2. Dane Coles (New Zealand)

3. Ramiro Herrera (Argentina)

4. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)

5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

6. Juan Martin Lobbe (Argentina)

7. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)

9. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

10. Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)

11. Julian Savea (New Zealand)

12. Ryan Crotty (New Zealand)

13. Conrad Smith (New Zealand)

14. Cornal Hendricks (South Africa)

15. Ben Smith (New Zealand)

50 comments so far

  • Australian rugby lacks depth, maybe that's where the NRC will help. And also reforming Schoolboy rugby in Sydney, to have at higher standard, and produce more players.

    Wallabies Unavailable(injured/overseas), who would press for squad selection:

    Quade Cooper,Will Genia,Joe Tomane,Henry Speight,Chris Feauai-Sautia,Kyle goodwin

    TPN,Steve Moore,Dave Pocock,

    JOC,Digby Ioane,Drew Mitchell,Matt Giteau,Sitaleki Timani,Kane Douglas,Ben Mowen,Honey Badger,Berrick Barnes

    Alot of Talent there, unavailable.

    I reckon the Picking Wallaby Overseas rule should be:
    Eligible if you meet any of these Criteria:
    -Aged 30 and over
    -Played 50 Wallaby Tests
    -Played 100 Super rugby games
    Simple straightforward criteria!

    Date and time
    August 24, 2014, 10:35PM
    • Like the general idea so that it doesn't open it up to everyone moving, let them take the money after some service. My only issue would be it could be a bit too high, especially the 100 super games. Make it 27 or so, 60 games and 30 or 40 tests and might be a bit more reasonable.

      Either way, I like the idea but the boffins at the ARU will likely stay stubborn.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 8:40AM
    • Some good suggestions re: criteria.

      Based on the criteria only Barnes (51 tests), Mitchell (Age, Tests, Super), Giteau (Age, Tests) would be exempt.

      The Couch
      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 3:28PM
    • Some good ideas with the criteria. It's quite a tough criteria but also clear.

      -Maybe reduce the criteria to be this. You can for the Wallabies/and overseas on the following criteria. If you meet any of them, you only have to meet 1 criteria out of the available.

      -Aged 28 and over, or at least aged 25
      -80 Super rugby games
      -50 tests, or at least 40 tests.

      -Remember James Slipper has already played 50 tests and is only 25.
      -Super rugby you play what 16 regular season games maybe a few finals. You may not play all SR games in the season. It may take up at least 5 years to rack up 80 SR games.

      Footy fan
      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:38PM
  • While it is true the AIG Nuns played very well, as they invariably do at Eden Park, the Wallabies made it suspiciously easy for them.

    The Wallabies refused to compete seriously at kickoffs, they refused to compete seriously
    at lineouts and they refused to compete seriously at rucks and the Wallabies defensive strategy relies on more position changes than that famous indian book of fate, purely to accommodate Beale's defensive weakness. If you’re going to just hand the game to the opposition they are always going to put 50 points on you. Zambia would have thrashed us.

    It’s been obvious for some time Beale is not a 10. We knew this after the Lions series when Deans disastrously used him there. If the ARU is going to succumb to Beale’s blackmail and is prepared to sacrifice australian pride in our rugby in doing so, then it is hastening australian rugby’s demise.

    In no universe, parallel or otherwise, did Bernard Foley deserve to be dropped as 10 for Beale. It’s clear the other team members know this and it seems equally clear this is why there was such a lack of spirit, like under Deans, where selections were obviously based on favourites or directives from the ARU, rather than form or ability. It’s not uncommon for a
    team to ‘dog it’ in protest if they see one of their good guys being shafted by the coach or management for no good reason and some inexperienced pampered prima donna pet promoted over him.

    McKenzie and Pulver got away with it with the surprise factor and appalling weather in the first test but by the second test, the jig was up.

    Date and time
    August 25, 2014, 4:50AM
    • I knew I could count on you for a laugh JB.

      Although, your hints at a conspiracy behind these results is a bit too abstract for this time of morning isn't it?

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:59AM
    • @johhny-boy
      "under Deans, where selections were obviously based on favourites or directives from the ARU"
      It's good to know you agree that dingo Deans was not to blame for the wobblies below par performance while in charge.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 8:28AM
    • @ Gonzo how do you think the AIG's would go if Kit Fawcett had blackmailed the ARU in to playing him at ten in the weekend to encourage more seniors to play rugby and the All Blacks avoided contesting the ball at kickoffs, lineouts and rucks and their defence had more shuffles than a Las Vegas card park ? The Wallabies would put 50 points on them easy. As you do.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 9:32AM
    • Johnny-Boy - so, if I read you correctly, you are saying that the Wallabies threw the game as a protest against Beale playing at number 10. That's an interesting take on it. So according to you the Wallabies have no respect for their jersey, no respect for their coach & no respect for those who have worn the green & gold before them. Coming from a Wallaby "fan", that's a real indictment on this team & their coach isn't it?
      Pretty sure that O'Connor was the five eighth in the Lions series as well. Beale came on at fullback in game 1 when Barnes went down & played fullback in games 2 & 3. Never mind about the facts when the chance arises to have a crack at Deans though eh?

      Shane D
      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 9:44AM
    • Off the meds again JB?

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 10:49AM

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