Wallabies second rate – changes needed
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Quade Cooper and Drew Mitchell must be in the starting lineup at Eden Park next Saturday after last night’s dismal 27-19 loss to the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium.
The scoreline flattered the Wallabies who made one elementary mistake after another.
The exasperated look on coach Robbie Deans’ face virtually said “What the ….”, as did the majority of the Australian fans in the 76,866 crowd.
Next week the backline should read Will Genia (9), Cooper (10), Mitchell (11), Berrick Barnes (12), Adam Ashley-Cooper (13), Digby Ioane (14), and Kurtley Beale (15).
That means moving Barnes out one, and dropping the centre combination of Anthony Fainga’a and Rob Horne, who didn’t do anything productive all night.
To magnify Deans’ problems, the big four he relies on so much to show the way didn’t fire either – captain David Pocock, vice-captain Will Genia, full-back Kurtley Beale, and no 8 Scott Higginbotham.
Pocock gave away two vital penalties for not releasing, both of which Dan Carter converted – Genia, apart from one brilliant bust was pedestrian, and looked like the last four unproductive years of George Gregan – Beale missed two tackles for two tries, and spilled a regulation pass that set up the second – while Higginbotham’s hands weren’t too flash either bombing a try with the line wide open, nor his defence.
Between the four of them they gift-wrapped 18 of the All Blacks’ 27 points.
Yet the match stats demanded the Wallabies won.
* Possession – 59%.
* Territory – 51%.
* Time in opposition 22 – 3 minutes 28, to the All Blacks 3 minutes 8.
* Won the rucks and mauls – 71 to 47.
* And Barnes landed all his attempts at goal with a conversion, and four penalties, to give the Wallabies a sniff.
All that good work was then nullified by:
* Handling errors – Wallabies 10-7.
* Missed tackles – Wallabies 18-15.
* And turnovers – Wallabies 18-13.
Despite their many chances, the Wallabies were simply not good enough and in the process recorded their 13th loss in 16 confrontations with the men-in-black on the Deans watch.
The prospects for next Saturday look even worse, not having won at Eden Park since 1986 when Alan Jones was coach and Andy Slack captain.
The 22-9 victory regained the Bledisloe Cup with a 2-1 series success.
The only way the Wallabies can win next week to break the drought, the hoodoo, or whatever you want to call it, is to have a crack, a really good crack, at running the big All Black forwards off their feet by scoring tries across the park.
But the Wallabies aren’t good at that against the All Blacks. They have scored only 26 tries to 42 in those 16 games since Deans took over.
Deans and the Wallabies must realise playing defensive percentage rugby instead of expansive running rugby doesn’t work against a great side like the world champions.
Give the latter a run, you’ll enjoy the game more.
And so will we.
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