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The alarm bells should be ringing in the Wallabies camp after the complete demolition of Australia’s scrum against Wales.
I remember in 2007 Australia were the number two ranked side in the world heading into the World Cup.
One of their group games was against Wales. The game started off well enough, but an average Welsh scrum began dominating the Wallaby scrum.
I sensed the tide was about to turn.
Fortunately for Australia, Chris Latham put an up and under that was misjudged by Gareth Thomas (I think it was). Latham followed through, scooped-up the ball, and sprinted away for a terrific solo try.
After the game there was a small minority of people claiming England could beat Australia in the quarter-final.
For many this was hard to believe, as England had lost 0-36 to South Africa, and barely scrapped through to the quarter finals against some poor opposition.
But Australia had weaknesses in the forwards, and they were horribly exploited in the quarter final.
In just about every other area of the game Australia were vastly superior. But they had no scrum.
The scary thing is, I saw a lot of similarities between the Welsh game from 2007 and the Welsh game of 2010.
It wasn’t until the second half that Australia actually properly contested one good scrum.
In general play, players were isolated and their support seemed half a second too late to clean out.
It was very concerning.
The Wallabies were superior to Wales in just about every area, except set-pieces and some areas of forward play, and they could have lost that game.
Don’t forget: Stephen Jones missed two easy penalties in that game, while I’d argue James O’Connor got all the ones he should be expected to get.
I don’t know what’s happened to the Wallabies scrum. In 2008 it seemed Australia could gain parity with most sides with their scrum.
Al Baxter remained a liability at times, but Australia were solid there, and even won a huge game against England in 2008, where their scrum dominated England. Baxter was terrific that day.
It was one of those rare games where you sensed a team was playing for vengeance. They were hurting from the previous year’s loss, and inflicted tremendous pain on England.
In 2009 Australia had a scrum that dominated every scrum in the Northern Hemisphere. And what’s more, Benn Robinson was the best loosehead in the world at that time.
Benn Robinson has been beaten hands down these last two weeks. Ben Franks was probably the best All Blacks forward from last week, and game him a torrid time.
I can say this without any doubt: Benn Robinson was the best Wallabies player in 2009.
Right now he doesn’t look like the Benn Robinson of 2009.
It’s great Australia beat Wales. They played really well at times. They counter-attacked well, they showed some creativity, Pocock won a few turnovers (as usual), and Beale was tremendous once again.
Beale… I would have given a great deal to see him finish off that try. That was a glimpse of rare genius, to attempt a deft grubber after catching and up and under. It’s in the Campese realm of creativity, and he did all the hard work before releasing the ball!
That would have been the try of the year!
He’s just been a phenomenal player recently. He was a deserved Man of the Match, and I don’t know if people realise just how quickly he’s amassing tries. He’s scoring close to a try a game, and his running has changed the Wallabies.
Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the way Kurtley Beale keeps improving.
But anyway… the Wallabies can’t be lured into a false sense of security. They can be exposed against England if they don’t improve their scrum. They can lose that game, despite being superior in all other departments.
I didn’t see the England versus New Zealand game. But 26-16 isn’t the usual All Black dominance you’d expect (I don’t know how Stephen Donald played).
I’m happy the Wallabies won, and there’s a lot of positives to look at.
But if the alarm bells aren’t sounding in the Wallabies camp, something is wrong.
To me the alternative is clear: fix the scrum or expect to lose a game. Simple as that.