It was utter rubbish. Headlines that suggest anything else are risable. The referee was fine. The All Blacks were competent. The Wallabies were good in spots, and overall just rubbish. Simply put, they lack a consistent sense of urgency and it cost them dearly.
Among the ‘detached’ were several prominent examples, but with several exceptions the rest of the team was wandering close behind.
The 80 minute exception was Rocky Elsom who showed why he, not George Smith, Matt Giteau or any of the others often mentioned, should be captain. Now, not later.
The replacements Genia, Hynes and Palotu-Nau also showed why they belong in the run-on side.
After a flurry of aggressive play, the early points from penalties acted like tranquilizers and a fog settled in. By that time Giteau had already kicked the first of several of what has become his signature screw-up – a low kick into an opponent’s body.
The relief of seeing Baxter removed early was short lived when it became apparent that Alexander was not going to offer much of anything consistently around the park.
It was also becoming hard to overlook that Burgess’s incredibly poor judgment regarding when to get stuck in left us without a scrumhalf at critical moments – but, ironically not much worse off than when he was in position but dithering about with his picking up of the ball, soft passes, and time-wasting steps.
Both Barnes and O’Connor started well and provided some spark but finished early. After they left, the kickers all seemed obsessed with finding Sivivatu – a curiously counter intuitive strategy that they didn’t seem to notice wasn’t working.
To add detail to the comment the Wallabies were rubbish, by position I rate them as follows:
1. Robinson – 5/10 scrummaged OK; missed critical tackles; lacked intensity – no impact
2. Moore – 5/10 scrummaged OK; ran poorly with the ball from backs, spent too much time in backs and not enough in the tight; did not look for much work and it showed
3. Baxter – 2/10 useless and expensive in scrum; no impact – his last match?
4. Horwill – 5/10 provided someone for Sharpe to bind with – a journeyman effort, a pro was required
5. Sharpe – 8/10 up for the match; played well in set and loose; old but good on the day
6. Elsom – 8/10 rusty but committed. The match would have been gone before half without him
7. Smith –7/10 time is catching up. It also seems that captaincy weighs on him, no game breakers today
8. Brown – 4/10 that is 2 brainless yellow cards now and nothing to compensate for it
9. Burgess – 4/10 One good snipe toward the end did not make up for a generally lousy game. He thinks slowly, kicks aimlessly, runs sideways, passes delayed marshmallows, and frequently goes missing – where was he when Barnes/Sharpe nearly scored?
10. Giteau – 6/10 goal kicking aside, a very poor match. Kicking out of hand was ill-considered and ineffective. Not maturing as a 5/8. Comparisons to Carter are nonsense. Move to inside centre.
11. Mitchell – 4/10 kicked poorly and aimlessly, poor judgment created numerous problems, eg. non-catch of AB touch kick at the 12th minute
12. Barnes – 8/10 best back going into the half before being replaced
13. AAC – 7/10 fell off a few tackles, generally solid and useful, needs to play at 13 all of the time
14. Turner – 4/10 did not look for work or contribute much, another anonymous match
15. O’Connor – 7/10 Started well, took a knock and left early. He, Hynes and Ioane should be back three
16. Palotu-Nau – 6/10 far better in the tight and loose than Moore. Should have stayed after Moore’s first trip to BB
17. Alexander – 5/10 scrummaged competently, mostly but not completely missing in the loose
18. Mumm – 5/10 filled a spot, but made no impact
19. Pocock – 6/10 no mistakes, made nothing happen; no impact
20. Genia – 8/10 in a few minutes demonstrated that he has all the skills that Burgess lacks and intensity as well. Came close to pulling game out of his hat.
21. Cross – 6/1 journeyman performance. Not much opportunity. Did no harm.
22. Hynes – 8/10 worked hard, made an impact every minute he was on the pitch.
Just what do these guys think their jobs are? The selections are poor. The game plan seems to last about 20 minutes with no backup.
The mindset is soft and the team is about as intense as the U14 Bs. At this level the players should be able to do this well without coaches.
1. Deans – 4/10 needs to get a grip on his ‘professional’ players. No more Mr. nice guy. His job is on the line and both he and they need to feel it. They players are not supposed to have fun until they win. Anyone who left the pitch today without a frown should be flogged.
2. Williams – 2/10 how many forwards does he actually coach? They are not winning the collisions and when they do get the ball half of them think they are centres and slow everything down.
3. Graham – 2/10 defense isn’t just tackles. It is anticipating and getting into place for 80+ minutes. Too much of the time these players are watching and reacting – case in point the 77th minute confusion on the Wallabies 5m line and subsequent score.
This was a soft headed, self-inflicted loss. Based on my assessment (admittedly impressionistic) only about half of the Wallaby players deserved a paycheck. The coaching staff should be sued for fraud.
Today for the first time in my life I spent the last five minutes of a Wallaby match absolutely furious and actually screaming at the television.
Given the lack of urgency and general lackadaisical attitude toward every aspect of the match in the 2nd half it seemed inevitable that they would let it go – and they did.