Five talking points from the Wallabies vs Scotland

Connor Bennett Roar Guru

By , Connor Bennett is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Scotland have snapped their Wallabies losing streak and landed their first ever win against Australia in Sydney, coming out on top of a tight 24-19 thriller.

    Both sides took turns in dominating play with the Scots coming out the better side in the first half, but the Wallabies took control in the second, only to fall short in a tantalising final ten minutes as they hammered the Scottish line.

    Has Scotland become the Wallabies’ most realistic rivalry?
    If you ask any fan of Australian rugby or any sports fan in Australia for that matter, and they will tell you the Wallabies’ biggest rival is New Zealand, the Kiwis, those across the ditch that continue to haunt us.

    While they may be our historical rival, the All Blacks are anything but a heated rival when all they do is arrive, defeat and leave for the better part of one and a half decades.

    A good rivalry is one that produces those thrillers on a regular basis, those tight contests that have fans invested 100 percent in the contest with genuine emotion to want to beat them.

    Every one of the last six games now between Scotland and Australia has been won by six points or less and both sides have won three each. If that’s not a realistically close rivalry then I don’t know what is, and Aussie fans just jump on board.

    The last three games specifically have all been drama-filled, close games of rugby, especially the World Cup quarter-final that saw the Scots robbed in the dying seconds and on the Spring Tour last year when Tevita Kuridrani’s right arm stole it late.

    New Zealand may be the main rivalry of the Wallabies, but Scotland have become the one to watch and a side that you know is producing great rugby storylines and contests for the fans to be invested in.

    Inconsistent starts
    I spoke last week in talking points of Australia’s blistering start against Fiji but their inability to keep it going. Letting off the gas as it were.

    This week they did the exact opposite.

    Scotland shot out of the gates and, thanks to a litany of Wallaby errors and penalties, were able to spend the bulk of the opening half an hour entrenched in the Australian half and inside the 22.
    Australia couldn’t seem to clear their way out of an empty car park the way they continued to gift the ball back to Scotland and were lucky the Scots were falling short in execution for the most part.

    Their kicking, in particular, was lacklustre in the opening 40 minutes, often failing to find touch or the other side of halfway and hitting the breadbasket of the back three the majority of the time.

    Will Genia’s kicking from the back of the ruck was off from last week as well, but I’ll get to that.

    The Wallabies continued their clumsy ways in the second stanza as the penalties and errors continued to flow, but they were at least able to turn it around and hump all the pressure on the Scots end of the park.

    They need to figure out if they want to be fast starters or gradual climbers or late finishers in a contest because changing between them isn’t doing much for Michael Cheika’s men.

    Or is it even too much to ask for a complete 80-minute performance?

    Charge down tries are stupid
    I hate charge down tries. I just hate them. They shouldn’t happen, people should never allow a charge down try to eventuate.

    If you see someone there, just don’t kick it. If someone is close enough to be able to charge down your kick, then it’s likely they are right next to you and you should know they are there.

    Just don’t kick it. If they are that close it’s quite obvious that your kick just isn’t going to go through them, because that’s not how science works. Take the tackle, throw a dummy, pass it off. Anything is better than the embarrassment of being charged down and giving away an absolute gift.

    Now that that’s out of the way. What are you doing Will Genia!

    Even leading up to the moment Genia ploughed his kick straight into the arms of Scottish flyhalf Finn Russell for their second try of the game, Genia’s kicking just seemed a bit off.

    He wasn’t quite finding his mark, not quite getting his distances right or accuracy and when Bernard Foley was yellow carded, he was given extra kicking duties.

    It didn’t work out for him in the end and Dane Haylett-Petty then took over with the boot for the most part until Foley reemerged.

    Scotland were struggling to find the line despite dominating possession in the opening half and that charge down try just let them off the hook and put the Wallabies into a little hole. It should never have happened.

    Different results on either side of the ditch a glimpse into the future?
    Just one day prior to the Wallabies losing to a lesser-fancied Scottish side in Sydney, the All Blacks decimated a lesser-fancied Samoan outfit in Auckland with a 78-0 hammering.

    Every year the Wallabies take hope into the Bledisloe Cup, hoping that this is the year, hoping that the pain will finally stop, hoping that maybe we can win back that little cup that has haunted us for so long now.

    If this weekend of rugby proved anything, it’s that the Wallabies are still a long, long, long way off.

    Now that seems like an obvious statement to anyone that’s been paying attention to rugby at any points in the last five years, but it was really obviously highlighted over the past few days.

    Both came up against opponents they were expected to beat, opponents that are no pushover but should have realistically been some form of stepping stone into the Rugby Championship in August.

    New Zealand were clinical, they were near-faultless from kickoff to the final whistle and they tore the Samoans apart with 12 tries and an incredible 50 points in the second half alone.

    That’s how the best side in the world does it. They perform at 100 per cent regardless of the opposition and they don’t let themselves be complacent. It’s the type of relentlessness and ruthlessness that Australia simply doesn’t have.

    In stark contrast, the Wallabies limped and spluttered their way to a five-point loss to Scotland.

    Maybe Samoa isn’t as strong an opposition as Scotland, but could you really see the Wallabies scoring 78 points and conceding none if put in the same game as the All Blacks faced?

    There’s such a huge contrast between these two games and they are the kind of early signs that should have Wallaby fans nervous to take on the All Blacks later in the year.

    Is this another step in the rise of Scottish rugby?
    Scotland have now won seven of their last nine games since losing to Australia last year by a single point at Murrayfield.

    They tied second in the Six Nations earlier in the year, only dropping down the table on points difference, but they lost just two games, one of those being to an England side who were on a record winning streak at the time.

    They got past Ireland and Wales, two sides who have traditionally been better than them in recent history and expected to win, in the same way Australia were in Sydney.

    Despite missing star players Stuart Hogg, who has won player of the tournament for the Six Nations two years in a row now, and Tommy Seymour, Scotland stepped up to a full-strength Wallabies side and they conquered them.

    Scotland only had two players picked in the highly sought after 41-man Lions squad that is currently in New Zealand and they were out to prove a point against the Wallabies and show that they have so much more than that.

    They performed well in the World Cup in 2015 and they’ve begun to surprise many with their performances in the Six Nations over the last two years, but a win away from home against a top three side like Australia, that’s the biggest sign to world rugby that Scotland are serious business and they are on the rise.

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