Neville and Pyle are ready to be Wallabies
Cadeyrn Neville has been held back from the latest Wallabies squad (AAP Image/Annaliese Frank)
Rebel locks Cadeyrn Neville and Hugh Pyle should have clinched a Wallaby debut against Scotland on Tuesday, despite being on the wrong end of the Brumbies’ 27-19 win in Melbourne last night.
Neville and Pyle were right in the thick of the action throughout in every phase of play.
Neville (23), in particular, continues to amaze with his outstanding all-round ability in his first Super Rugby season, and only his third season of rugby after a career in rowing.
Tireless Brumby flanker Michael Hooper should also don his first of many gold jerseys on Tuesday, with the team to be named tomorrow.
As tireless as he is, Hooper must become more disciplined.
He gave away five penalties last night by being over-eager and was lucky he didn’t spend 10 in the bin.
While those three ready themselves for their international debuts, how Wallaby selectors continue to ignore Brumby fly-half Zack Holmes and skipper-No 8 Ben Mowen is mystifying.
At the risk of “pushing it uphill” trumpeting Holmes’ claims yet again, he’s the best performed 10 in the Australian Conference at the moment.
And that includes Quade Cooper.
Last night, Holmes was superb in both attack and defence. He has built-in football nous reading the game well in advance, setting up supports with slick passing.
And he kicked four from five: the one he missed slammed into the left-hand upright from well out.
Mowen doesn’t know how to play a bad game since he left the suffocating clutches of the Waratahs, and was handed the responsibility of captaincy at the Brumbies by coach Jake White, both in their first year in the capital.
Be it lineout jumping, ball-carrying, or defence, there isn’t a weak link in Mowen’s all-round ability.
Game-wise, the Brumbies won, but won ugly.
But with the defending champion Reds breathing down their neck, just a point behind, the Brumbies desperately need to lift by shelving their forward dominating game to become more expansive.
They have the cattle.
Sure, backs Andrew Smith and Robbie Coleman scored the only Brumby tries, but over 80 minutes, the back division was rarely let loose.
The defining moment?
The Brumbies dodged a bullet in the 37th minute when Rebel fly-half James Hilgendorf scythed his way through from 40 metres out to be brought down with a magnificent diving tackle from behind by Wallaby inside centre Pat McCabe.
The momentum carried Hilgendorf to the line with Jessie Mogg and Coleman all over him, but the try was disallowed.
As mystifying as the non-selection of Holmes and Mowen.
That try would have given the Rebels a 16-14 lead at the break and changed the whole complex of the game.
But “if” never wins anything.
What is fact is the Brumbies would have expected to pick up a vital bonus point for four tries. They never looked like achieving that goal.
Another fact: the Brumbies hadn’t scored a try for 117 minutes until Smith crossed in the 26th.
That is a telling stat in the run home.The Brumbies just can’t rely on opposition ill-discipline and Holmes accurate 86% boot to keep winning.
Tonight at Allianz, the wobbly Waratahs will be desperate to avoid a sixth straight loss when they take on the Hurricanes.
Despite their appalling season, the Waratahs have claimed 10 bonus points, the most of any franchise in the tournament, just one to the good of the Brumbies.
Which proves they can play, if they turn to do just that.
Let’s see what Waratah team turns up tonight.
For what it’s worth, I’ve backed the Waratahs to win by eight. Sooner than later they must play to their max.
Wishful thinking, or prophetic?
Watch Ashes Day 2 Video Highlights - Produced by The Roar
Video produced by Riordan Lee.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -