Samoa bash up weak Wallabies
Manu Samoa added to their already formidable reputation by comfortably beating the Wallabies 32-23 in the first Test match of 2011.
Samoa played very well. In the first passage of play, they showed composure and accuracy with the ball, befitting a higher ranked country. Samoa went on to outplay the Wallabies across the park for most of the game.
The breakdown was one way traffic for the brutal Samoan forwards. They dominated so much that the Wallabies could not even rely on simple recycling plays.
Either the ball was lost or, as a minimum, it was slowed down so much that it was a very tough day for the youngster, Phipps.
The game was won and lost at the breakdown.
This game was reminiscent of the 2007 Rugby World Cup game against England.
The other countries in the same Rugby World Cup pool as Samoa – Fiji, Namibia, South Africa and Wales – should be worried and make sure that they have their health insurance fully paid up. Samoa could be the surprise packets of the 2011 tournament as Argentina were in 2007.
Wales, in particular, could become the next victim of the Samoan smash and grab raid. At least it won’t be a new experience for them.
As for the Wallabies, the back row and particularly Hodgson and Elsom had no answer to Samoa at the breakdown. Timani was found out by the step up in power and pace. His day will come, but he won’t be on the plane to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. Alexander has lost his running game of yesteryear.
Nothing has changed with Giteau’s play. Despite his passionate play, particularly in last line defence, he continued to go across field all day. This allowed the defence to drift and destroyed his backline’s alignment and ability to attack straight up the field, make ground and score points.
His running lines verged on making the Wallabies’ backs space a hostile and unsafe work environment. Just ask Rod Davies.
McCabe straightened the attack and made yards all afternoon. He is a value for money player. It will be interesting to see who Robbie Deans selects at 12.
Will it be a McCabe/Faingaa “straight talking” inside centre or a Giteau/O’Connor “creative type” second flyhalf?
Adam Ashley-Cooper was better than he has been in 2011 for the Brumbies, but that is not saying much. I am a big fan but he needs to recapture his form soon, for everyone’s sake.
Ioane trucked the ball up all day but didn’t find the gaps that exist in Super Rugby. Davies showed he can handle the rough stuff but needs to put the long studs in.
Gerrard played well when called upon but was too passive in his contribution to the attack.
Despite being a passionate card carrying Australian, I enjoyed seeing the Wallabies found out today. The game performed a most important function; it was a full frontal, reality check.
The debutantes and discovered and the experienced players were reminded that you can take nothing for granted at this level, and particularly only six weeks from the RWC. Test rugby requires massive physicality, bordering on self destruction. Only one team, Samoa, was playing with that commitment today.
My main concern is that, despite the Wallabies knowing what to expect, and then experiencing what they had had known to expect, they did not or could not respond or go with the Samoans.
For Manu Samoa, and World Rugby, I just hope that this squad continue to play with this self belief and commitment. If so, Manu Samoa (as Pool D runners up) could meet Australia in the Quarter Final.
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