In a match substantially determined by penalty calls and successful penalty kicks, criticising selections may seem a bit harsh. However, there were several points in the match on Saturday that suggest Deans and Co should give thought to a different run-on side.
First, when Alexander came on for Baxter the scrum was just fine and we gained another ball carrier. When Genia came on for Burgess the service improved, and we got much a much quicker pair of hands and a cooler head when ball quality was poor. When Pocock came on and Palu left we got heart and pace and lost nothing. When O’Connor came on for Mortlock we got a rapidly moving target and lost a sitting duck.
At some point soon Elsom will be back and we can get rid of Palu completely. If Mortlock’s injury puts him at worst on the bench, it seems clear that O’Connor can handle fullback and AAC could go to 13 while we wait for Ioane to get well. Here the worst case should be Cross.
Some have suggested that Deans has shown his 2011 hand with this latest starting lineup. I hope not. It is loaded with problems. For the next match at I’d hope he tries the following:
1. Robinson (better with each match)
5. Mumm (isn’t time to recall Kimlin?)
Res: P-Nau (can he play TH prop?), Burgess, Cross, Horwill, Baxter, Hines, Palu/Waugh.
Also, I would rather have had a full team of South African refs on Saturday than the one-eyed lot we had. Australia’s penalties were mostly deserved.
What about the Boks?
With their aggressive attack of the breakdowns their penalty count defies explanation – or is it that they have suddenly cleaned up their collective act?
Brusseau alone should have been worth 6-9 more points to the Wallabies.
Really, three SA refs would have been better than that confused trio.