No excuses left for Wallabies after Scotland smashing

Jack Quigley Columnist

By , Jack Quigley is a Roar Expert

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    When the Wallabies lost to Scotland by five points in Sydney in June, the Wallabies’ coaching staff cited a lack of fitness and time spent together as a group for the general disorganisation and sub-standard performance.

    The opportunity to play the same opponent again to round out the international season seemed like the perfect chance for the Wallabies to put those demons to rest – with a full international season behind them they wouldn’t be hampered by any of the organisational or fitness issues from June.

    So what then to make of the 29-point hammering at Murrayfield? First and foremost, praise must be showered upon the Scots who backed up last week’s effort against the All Blacks with a sensational second-half blitz to blow Australia away.

    The Scots were simply too good for the Wallabies, and were so on the back of losing their best attacking threat, Stuart Hogg to injury in the warm-up which forced a last-minute backline reshuffle.

    Scotland have become a good watch under Gregor Townsend, who spent time playing club rugby in Sydney with Warringah in an era when the important things in rugby were executing the skills, rather than winning the ‘collisions’.

    Townsend spoke back in June about his desire to see his side play more of a ‘southern hemisphere’ style of rugby in regards to attack and they are now full value for eighty minutes of rugby viewing.

    There should be no shame in losing to Scotland at a packed Murrayfield, but given the circumstances of the loss in June and the rhetoric at the time of ‘we just weren’t ready’, this one is pretty hard to cop with a straight face.

    The sending off of Sekope Kepu hurt the Wallabies, but it should not be used as an excuse or hidden behind.

    One of Michael Cheika’s commonly used catchphrases is the importance of ‘owning’ moments. Kepu’s moment of madness let his team and coach down badly, but it was entirely of his own making and the red card fully deserved.

    The fact that a player at that level doesn’t have the correct technique of clearing out – or just the sufficient discipline to not take the cheap shot on offer – is something that Cheika must ‘own’.

    Michael Cheika clearly uses the siege mentality tactic as a way of galvanising his teams. He appears to shoot from the hip and thrives off intensity and confrontation, aiming to create a feeling of injustice in the dressing room spark a rebellion against the opposition.

    Unfortunately it appears that Cheika’s lack of discipline also filters down on to the field. International rugby is hard enough when it is 15-on-15, let alone 15-on-14 or even 15-on-13 as has happened several times during Cheika’s tenure.

    Last week this column suggested that the Scotland result would go a long way toward shaping how this Wallabies season is judged.

    A win would have meant a solid if unspectacular year, slow but steady progress papering over the home loss in June, the stumbling effort against Italy and the home draw against an average South African team.

    This loss, and the manner of it, will only bring to the surface the inconvenient truths that the Wallabies have a hell of a lot of work to do in the next eighteen months if they are to even entertain the thought of a challenge at the World Cup in Japan.

    Jack Quigley
    Jack Quigley

    A long time sports writer and podcaster, Jack has spent the majority of his media career covering football and rugby. He recently joined The Roar on the back of penning a viral Facebook rant aimed at the Wallabies which attracted 60,000 likes and more than 6,000 shares. You can follow him on Twitter @Jack_Quigley.