Genia fires up Wallabies to vital win over Wales
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Australia's Will Genia. AAP Image/Dave Hunt
When Will Genia is at his electrifying best, the Wallabies win, as they did last night, 27-19 over Wales at Suncorp.
The Wallaby half-back treated the 42,788 at the ground, and millions of television viewers worldwide, to another of his long-range signature tries at Suncorp, his third on the trot, made many incisive bursts, and finally threw a perfectly timed pass to centre Pat McCabe to score the game-clinching try under the posts.
And not far behind was captain David Pocock, with his signature pilfering, and faultless defence. He was everywhere for 80 minutes, leading from the front.
Little wonder there was the hint of a smile from beleaguered Wallaby coach Robbie Deans, and deservedly so. His future seemed very bleak after the shock 9-6 loss to Scotland in atrocious conditions at Newcastle last Tuesday night.
Last night, the resolve, faith, and momentum that went MIA against the Scots returned – with interest.
And for seven Waratahs, the huge relief to walk off Suncorp with a “W” against their name after a record six successive losses for the men-in-blue, among a record 10 losses in a season.
But there was a 12-minute window from the 51st to the 63rd where the Wallaby resolve and faith was severely tested. The Six-Nations Grand Slammers fought back from 20-6 to 20-19, with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Wales had grabbed the momentum.
That’s when the Wallabies are at their most vulnerable: trying to snap out of going off the boil, and regroup. Last night they did just that, and were justly rewarded with their victory.
Genia and Pocock apart, winger Digby Ioane went on the prowl looking for work, and was not only successful in finding it, but making full use of the ball in hand.
Fly-half Berrick Barnes mixed up his options very well, kicking less, running more, or feeding supports.
Inside-centre McCabe silenced his knockers with a all-round powerhouse display.
Blind-side flanker Scott Higginbotham was tireless, and scored the first try, using his size and immense strength. But he looks better suited to No 8.
Benchman Michael Hooper must switch to blind-side flanker.
Full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper had his best game in yonks, despite limited opportunities.
Debutant winger Cooper Vuna had even less opportunities. But he proved he has jet boots. He is extremely quick. More use should be made of his speed.
And the all Waratah front row of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, and Sekope Kepu, with just 91 caps between them, more than held their own with the 182-capped Welshman Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, and evergreen Adam Jones.
The Wallaby question marks?
Outside-centre Rob Horne bombed a certain try by hogging with Ashley-Cooper unmarked outside him, and did little else except for the odd tackle, while locks Nathan Sharpe and Rob Simmons were quiet, so too No 8 Wycliff Palu.
And Polota-Nau must never be allowed to feed the lineout. Anyone but TPN.
That’s how the Wallabies rated, but expect Wales to come back with a vengeance next week in Melbourne.
Normal coach Warren Gatland is expected in the southern capital, seemingly recovered from breaking both ankles in a fall. Rob Howley coached Wales last night.
But he’s no Gatland, one of the best in the business.
Huge lock Luke Charteris, 126kgs and 207cms, a tick over 6ft 9, will be a handful with a game under his belt. So too skipper Ben Warburton who had a big battle with Pocock, but lost out to the Wallaby skipper.
Class pivots Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland were quiet last night, but they are capable of so much more in Melbourne.
And if George North can recover from a cork that forced him off the field last night before half-time, then his partnership with co-winger Alex Cuthbert will keep the Wallabies on their toes. Both wingers are super quick.
So the Wallabies lead 1-0 in the three-Test series. Last night was an important one to win for countless reasons.
The next big ask now is for two in a row.
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