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SPIRO: Black for the All Blacks, gold for the Wallabies

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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209 Have your say

    Australia's fly half Kurtley Beale scores a try in the final seconds to win the match between Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales, on December 1, 2012. Australia won the match 14-12. (AFP Photo / Paul Ellise)

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    I had my radio earphones plugged in on Sunday morning and tuned into the BBC world sports round-up service. Half asleep I heard an announcer break into the match call of an EPL game to give a 38 – 21 scoreline for the England – All Blacks Test.

    I had the impression that the 38 was for the All Blacks and wondered briefly how their defence could leak three converted tries.

    But I was jolted awake when the EPL commentary was interrupted to go to Twickenham for an interview with the ‘victorious’ England coach, Stuart Lancaster. My wife was not amused when I told her, breaking her sleep, that ‘England has monstered the All Blacks.’

    Several other interviews were carried about the upset result. Curiously, there was one brief announcement that the Wallabies had defeated Wales 14 – 12 and nothing about the sensational try on time that twice saw the Wallabies, in the same try-scoring movement, run the ball forward from their own 22 before Kurtley Beale was released by Dave Dennis to score an historic try.

    Steve Hansen was right about the All Blacks being out-played by England.

    The points differential from the 38 – 21 result represented the second biggest loss the All Blacks have ever suffered in 109 years of Test rugby. In 1999 the Wallabies defeated them 28 – 7, a victory that set them up for their RWC 1999 truimph.

    The Springboks defeated them 17 – 0 in 1928 on the strength of Bennie Osler’s kicking.

    And now the history books will record England’s 38 – 21 triumph, a victory achieved with three 21 year olds playing a major part in the outcome. With England hosting RWC 2015, this victory, after close recent defeats to the Wallabies and the Springboks, suggests that they will be the team to beat in that tournament.

    The impressive part of the victory was that they found all sorts of holes in the All Blacks defence. They also won the collisions. And in general they showed more rugby nous, on the day, than the All Blacks.

    The interesting aspect of all this is whether England can take this impressive form into the Six Nations tournament in 2013, and then for two more years to the World Cup.

    My guess is that they will. The team is young. It is powerful. And it is well-coached.

    England’s victory, also, threw into sharper relief the quality of the Wallabies’ play since their defeat by France at the beginning of their northern tour.

    It needs to be remembered for all those who have demanded the head of Robbie Deans on a plate that the Wallabies defeated England, Italy and now, while the All Blacks were drowning in points against them, a rampant, fired-up Welsh side, inspired by its fervent and partisan crowd to play some brilliant running, expansive rugby.

    And again for all those who continually denigrate rugby as a spectacle, these Tests were sensational spectacles in their different ways, with England out-All Blacking the All Blacks and the Wallabies down and out with minutes to play scoring an absolutely sensational try to send them into 2013 with the momentum of three successive wins.

    At the 77th minute of play at the Millennium Stadium, Wales had forced a 5m scrum on the Wallaby try line.

    Greg Clarke, the excellent Fox Sports match commentator, realistically, made the comment: ‘Wales are less than three minutes away from breaking their drought’.

    The drought was a dry run of six successive losses. Rod Kafer, who was at his most astute throughout the match, did not contradict this comment.

    Somehow the Wallabies forced a turnover-scrum when Wales could not clear a maul on the Wallabies try line. Then, from an excellent scrum, they moved the ball out to Drew Mitchell who broke away to the near the halfway mark.

    A series of phases then saw Berrick Barnes making a terrific break to the Wales 22. If a Wallaby had been able to link up, it was try time. But Barnes planted the ball where it lay exposed for what seemed like a couple of seconds before a Welsh player snaffled it.

    Now Wales made a terrible, if understandable mistake, in the hurly-burly of the moment. Instead of kicking the ball out, as they could easily have done and then resisted the last lineout (if there was time for it), the ball was belted down field.

    The Wallabies then had to run the ball back from close to their 22. So back they came. After a couple of phases, Berrick Barnes got the ball wide, Dave Dennis galloped through a gap.

    Beale came hurtling up on his outside. The pass was made. And Beale raced away to go over in a tackle.

    Amid all the noise, I heard Nathan Sharpe ask referee Wayne Barnes if time was up. ‘Time is up,’ Sharpe was told. So he indulged himself with taking a dropped kick, which missed, in an attempt to convert the try.

    Sharpe deserved this indulgence. It is his last game for the Wallabies. I have been a critic of his play. He has been dropped from the Wallabies several times by different coaches. But this year, when the future of the health of Australian rugby was at risk, he literally rose to the occasion with some terrific lineout and scrumming play and inspired captaincy.

    As an indication of the thrilling aspect of the Test, here is the scoring sequence, with the Wallabies scores first: 3 – 0, 3 – 3, 3 – 6, 6 – 6, 9 – 6, 9 – 9, 9 – 12, 14 – 12.

    It was clear to me, as well, that a lot of thought had gone into the way the Wallabies played in this Test.

    Drew Mitchell, who had a splendid game, played a lot in the middle of the field, to give the Wallabies a cutting edge to their phase attacks. And when Digby Ioane came on, he did the same thing.

    In the early parts of the Tests, when they had a 74 per cent possession advantage, the Wallabies kept the ball in hand.

    They missed the dazzling feet and speed of James O’Connor to make the breaks and Will Genia to clear the ball and break himself when the time was opportune. Several times Kafer called for Nick Phipps to run but the half-back did not deliver on runs or a decent stream of passes.

    Towards the end of the match, though, the kickingitis came back to the Wallabies game. Let’s hope the disease will be cured next year.

    So what we have now is the Wallabies ranked nunber 3 in the world, a fall of one place for the year, and in the other half of the New Zealand side of the RWC 2015 draw.

    The British and Irish Lions look as though they’ll have a strong core of England players who played superbly against the All Blacks, with some of the Irish and Welsh best players to give the squad a sharp attacking edge.

    And the Wallabies will go into the series with the Lions, which will be the biggest sports event in Australia next year, on a swelling tide of the optimism that comes from knowing they have defeated both Wales and England on their home grounds.

    Bring it on!

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (209)

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:25am
      James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Credit to England they did play very well against the ABs however I find it amazing that people can place one game as a indication of how a team will perform in 3 years time.

      Its is ONE game. England started with a big win against Fiji in the first week. This same Fijian team were thrashed by an young Irish team later and having been beaten by an inexperience Bok and Wallaby side in previous weeks shows that either England played really well or the ABs had an off day.

      Beating the ABs is a great feat for all NH teams but I just don’t believe this team has potential until they can string a series of good wins over France and SH teams. Teams that usually raise the bar and put in a performance against the ABs somehow play poorly the following game. At the moment France is best team NH team.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:35am
        soapit` said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        yep, labelling anyone as the team to beat 3 years out is odd let a lone a team that has managed 1 from 3 over the SH sdes. lot of rugby to beplayed before then

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:30am
          Dan said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

          Yeah, I still remember the Wallabies great win in Brisbane in last years TN and how every said the Wallabies “monstered” the All Blacks and even “out-All Blacked” them. Didn’t seem to matter when the important games were on though.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 2:06pm
            Colvin said | December 3rd 2012 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

            Well, definitely the pundits have gone overboard again writing up the English win as if there is a new change in the world order of rugby.

            A lot of rugby is about the mental attitude of the players. Look at the ABs this year. In the second test against Ireland, the Irish nearly, and probably should have, won. In the third test the ABs beat them 60-0.

            Look at the WBs. They beat the Boks this year then lost the return match.

            A good result for England last weekend and encouraging for them. But that’s all.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am
        Misha said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        Also hard to know what to make of this game considering all but one AB was vomiting on Wed before

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37pm
          Malo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

          Exactly but good on the ABs not to make excuses like the Wallabies would have. Good article one of your best Spiro except bias towards Drew Mitchell. ABs are definitely beatable and i don’t believe they are that great just that the oppositions are below par at the moment.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:29am
      richard said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Felt this defeat was on the cards for the ab’s. We were bowled, rolled and rissoled, and have felt for a while that this team is vulnerable.A number of the tight forwards ( both the hookers and Woodcock) are past their use-by date and will have to be replaced – with what I don’t know, we just don’t have suitable replacements.

      As for the WC in 2015, I have felt for some time, that it would be contested between two teams, England and South Africa. Add France to that list, I think this team will be more consistent ( they will win the 3 test series in nz next year) and it will be a combination of these teams that will contest the final in 2015.

      Why don’t I include Australia as a contender, simple, like nz, you don’t have the forwards to win it.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:33am
        mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:33am | ! Report

        richard- big call stating AB’s ‘dont have the forwards’ and france will win the 3 test series in NZ next year. Huge huge calls

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:10am
          richard said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

          Mania,I’ll ask you, hand over heart, how many of our forward pack would make a world xv.I would suggest two, McCaw, and he is coming to the end of the line, and Reid.Contrast this with a French pack consisting of Picamoles, Harinordoquoy, Nyanga etc.We will get smashed up front. You only have to look at this season, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of the ab’s living on scraps, and only being able to score off turnover ball.Until our forward pack is addressed, we are going nowhere.Surely, you can see this!

          I stand by everything I have said, and would add this,if a number of those pommie forwards keep their form in the Six Nations, and make the Lions team, Australia will go down to them next year( bye-bye Robbie!).

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:19am
            mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

            hand on heart richard – tonyWoodcock, samWhitelock, mccaw (of course) and keiranRead.
            only etsbeth is on par with whitelock as lock
            owenFranks got given a good lesson in the weekend but woodcock played well and scrummaged well on his side.
            mccaw and read are light years ahead of any other challengers for their jerseys.
            england played awesome vs the AB’s but you have to keep in mind that Eng lifted their game. in general they dont play that passionately or accurately. eng lost to wb’s and boks. all teams lift against the AB’s. the trick is keeping that level of passion heated but controlled.
            richard i’d like to know who u would consider world XV class and how many of the AB’s would make that list.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:40am
              richard said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:40am | ! Report

              To Mania- Woodcock gave away penalties for putting his hand on the ground at scrumtime, its not just this test, its been most of this year – a great player just coming to the end of his run. Agree with you about Etzebeth, throw in the French and Pommie locks ( based on the RC and the EOYT).How many ab’s would make a world xv, about four, McCaw, Reid,Jane and Dagg.Carter doesn’t make it, because he’s injured and doesn’t play all the time.Notice, none of the tight five have made this squad, you would be looking at a tight five made up of poms, saffas and frogs with a backline mainly consisting of nzers and aussies.Problem is, games are generally won up front,and while the ab’s have been getting away with it this year,the first time a team has really confronted their forwards, they were found wanting.

              To soapit,I know it looks odd picking the team(s) to beat at WC 2015, but I find it an interesting exercise.Three years may seem a long time,but it will come up quicker than you think, and to me the signs are there, and from a nz perspective, they are looking ominous.

              To NOS, didn’t say the ab’s are average,they are just a good side – nothing more, nothing less.Agree with you about the scrums,I actually feel the ab scrum is the weakest in the SH comp atm. This will be targeted, and exposed by the French next year.As for nz being rested while the French will be tired, I wouldn’t put too much store by that, the last time the frogs toured , in 2009, they sent a weakened team and they drew a two test series, and came close to winning both. Don’t worry, the French will be up for it, they take great delight in lowering our colours.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am
                Jerry said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

                It wasn’t that weakened a French side in 09, but if you’re gonna note they were were understrength you should also note that a couple of guys currently nominated for IRB Player of the Year weren’t playing for NZ either….

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am
              mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              richard – woodcock giving away penalties for hand on ground doesnt mean he’s the not the best in the world.
              locks – no one in the world comes close to the workload that whitelock does and nor are they as reliable in set pieces. only nathanSharp is more accurate in set pieces than whitelock.
              read and mccaw def would make a world 15.
              bit harsh discarding carter for missing 3 games out of the whole season.
              england arent the 1st team to confront the AB’s forwards. aus, boks and puma’s did it in TRC. ireland did it big time in the 2nd test. england are just the 1st to win up front vs the AB’s.
              the AB’s scrum vs england was found wanting. but saying AB’s had the weakest scrum after surviving and out scrumming repeated scrum lessons from the best (in the puma’s and the boks) is flabbergasting. aus have been easily the worst this year for scrumming and general forward play.

              • Roar Guru

                December 3rd 2012 @ 7:46pm
                jeznez said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                the Bok’s scrum isn’t much – our Aussie one has been ahead of them for a few years now.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:05am
            Acorn said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

            turn it up Richard, you put Picamoles and Nyanga in a World xv, how many tests have they played in the last 4 years? less than a handful! AB’s have rookies in their pack this year, who have played a hell of a lot of rugby. guys like Whitelock and Retallick have been playing for 10 months, England have just started their season. I wouldn’t make too much of this AB’s loss, although England thoroughly deserved their win.
            Australia should get thumped by the Lions next year, if the Lions prepare well. Man for man Australia just don’t have the depth. Big challenge is for Gatland to get the team to gel, if he does, Australia don’t have a hope.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:05am
              richard said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

              No, didn’t put Picamoles and Nyanga in a world xv, just said that on what I have seen, they are playing better, and with more precision as part of a more aggressive and potent pack.Do you really believe this ab pack is strong, if that’s the case, why haven’t they dominated any of their oppositiion this year.Nz struggles to win ball, and thats right across the board,against all opponents.

              Do agree with your second paragraph, though.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:10am
            Jerry said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            The AB’s have scored a bunch of tries from first phase ball this year (more than in previous years, I suspect) and also from building the phases. In fact, I’d say they’re relying far less on turnover ball, considering they largely stopped concentrating on counter-rucking on defence mid season.

            • Roar Guru

              December 3rd 2012 @ 10:24am
              Argyle said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

              I reckon Israel Dagg’s against the Wallabies when he looped behind Gear during a blindside raid off a scrum was one for the ages. I solid bit of work that!

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:34pm
            Ra said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

            you’re not Ozzie ru Richard???? They’ve got guys who support their team the same way – whinging

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:36am
        nickoldschool said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        One loss doesnt make the ABs an average team with no hope of winning the next rwc richard. i think all top 8-10 teams will be genuine contenders and this November tour showed rather than proved that pretty much everyone can beat the others.

        The big 3 southerners have to work their scrums as the north is ahead imo. The new scrum rules seem to have clarified things and teams like the wallabies are caught more often hitting on early. So yes, the AB like the others have to improve at scrum time.

        For the rest, although Picamoles, Nyanga and Dusautoir (not sure we will see Harinordoquy again, he is 32yo, just back from injury and said this week in an interview that he had ‘missed the train’ by not playing this nov tour) are right up there, I have no doubt Mccaw, Read and Messam can match them. The AB have always learnt form their set backs. Their next test will be against France in June. They will be hungry, rested and will face a tired French squad which will just have finished their 10 month-long season. I hope you are right when you predict a french win of the series but i’d rather see what they do in the 6 nations first. I think many southerners will be watching too.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 6:07pm
        Red Block said | December 3rd 2012 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

        This will happen, if their is a ref out there brave enough to penalise the ABs in NZ. unlike Joubert in the RWC final.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:12pm
          richard said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

          Still on that tack are we, the ab’s won the final fair and square, so get over it.I wonder, were you saying the same thing about the frogs when they were gifted the Cardiff QF in 2007. Thought not, you would be one of those who joined the chorus of rabid ab haters who told nzers that we were sore losers.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:31am
      mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      well played by england who showed some really intelligent rugby.
      didnt watch the aus game but good to hear that mitchell, beale and digby had good games.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:12am
        Harry said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        I’m not sure Spiro did either. Drew Mitchell was you typical 2012 Wallaby back – competent enough, but no real cutting edge and easily enough curtailed throughout.
        Beale showed again why he is better at 15 than 10.
        I am in the anti-Deans camp but will give credit to him and the coaching staff for making match winning use of the bench with well timed injections of Digby and Mike Harris. Harris sparked a lot of the attacks late in the game including the decisive break with a lovely pass to Dennis, and credit to Dave Dennis for his well timed pass to Kurtley.
        Subbing on Kepu and slipper was a risk as well – fortunately their was only one scrum penalty given away – but it worked, as they added mobility around the field in that last 15 minutes.
        Sharpe man of the match for me. Ruled the lineout and got around the field.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:22am
          mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          harry – how the hell did mitchell start ahead of digby? i take it mitchell didnt play so well? how’d digby do?
          awesome to hear that sharpe played well. one of the most underrated wb’s in a long long time

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:35am
            Barns said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

            Drew had a good game, easily one of the better players. Had some good strong runs, chased well, tackled well. Nice to see him back.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37am
              mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37am | ! Report

              good to hear barns. mitchells one my favourtie players. would love to see him back at his best.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:23am
                Jutsie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:23am | ! Report

                U can tell mitchell still has the rugby brains and runs the good lines but he is still too slow for a test match winger, I hope he can regain he’s old pace but im not sure if he’s body will let him.
                There were a number of occasions were he made a half break or got on the outside on the weekend but on every occasion he was run down (sometimes even by forwards!).
                Digby needed to be dropped to send a rocket up his ass but sadly I think drew’s best days are well and truly over.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:47am
                mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:47am | ! Report

                jutsie – mitchell in for centres? a converted wing would understand the value of offloading or more importantly feeding your wingers.
                the main attribute of rugby that aus doesnt understand is that brains will always beat brawn. doesnt matter how big and fast a player is if he’s a bit slow on the rugby reflexes. mitchell has a proven rugby brain. mitchell may not be winger speed anymore but he could be the perfect solution for aus’ mid field crisis.
                mitchell and AAC. i like that thought.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:24am
                Jutsie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Mania thats a good theory but the problem is like I said even forwards were running mitchell down, it just seems like his body is still not upto it. Every time he gets the ball I wince thinking he may go down again. Its a shame as although JOC and Diggers have been great on the wing I still rate the 2010 mitchell better than either of them in that position.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:32am
                mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                jutsie – i’m a big mitchell fan. lets hope he still has more to give. i definately see him as a centre.

            • Roar Guru

              December 3rd 2012 @ 6:02pm
              PeterK said | December 3rd 2012 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

              Mitchell is not back, he has lost far too much pace to stay on the wing.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:25pm
                Tatah said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

                It’s a bit early to say that isn’t it? That was his first full game in how long? You may be right, but let’s give the bloke a chance.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37am
            soapit` said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:37am | ! Report

            he played ok butnothing special but digby looked immediately better when he came on, not quite back to his best but better then he has for a while.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:51am
              Harry said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:51am | ! Report

              As you say, Drew was OK but nothing special – not back to his 2009 and 2010 form, when he really had a cutting edge and was a beautiful finisher. Agree with your Digby summation as well. And the Honey Badger’s weaknesses were on display on Saturday, more so than his fine attributes. Deans got his 48th minute replacement by Digby right.

              Paul Cully has an excellent article in the Herald today on Australia’s season. As he emphasises, the style was set by lacklustre SuperRugby perforamnces from the Australian teams. Australian SuperRugby teams need to greatly improve in 2013 + less injuries please.

              In particular:
              – We need more depth at tighthead – Alexander did very well (to my surprise) so someone out of Ryan, Slipper, Kepu, Plamer or even Blake needs to stand up and do well to give competition.
              – Would be great to have Leolifano, JOC and Cooper all back fit and firing for their repsective teams and competing for the 10 jersey with Barnes and Beale. The sad reality is that scenario of all those 3 players competing for 10 is unlikely to happen given the mess Cooper has got himself into.
              – Most important of all, please let Genia and White stay fit at hafback. Genia especially. Phipps tries his best, but just does not have the class of Genia.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:04am
                soapit` said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:04am | ! Report

                also beale and joc play for the same team so one of them is not going to be playing 10 each week.

                not sure about super form translating to internationals. last 2 years it correlates but i’m sure there have been other years where it hasnt.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:22am
                Justin2 said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                Soap I tend to agree. The individuals are there so there should be no correlation to the “way” the S15 sides played to AUS.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:02am
                Harry said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                Well lets agree to disagree. I think SuperRugby form is importantand a very reliable indicator – but also I think it gives the players invaluable confidence – if can get wins such as in SA, or against the Saders, then it gives the players the confidence that they can actually win big games.

                The wallabiues won one game the whole year against the other top 4 sides.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:54am
                soapit` said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

                i’m kinda halfway, it cant hurt (to be winning in super rugby) with that whole confidence thing etc but i think its not too high up on the list of reasons we’re not playing well.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:48pm
              Malo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

              Digby is the no#1 winger for sure and Id have Cummins on the other. Once JOC and AAC in the centres, Genia at half Barnes at five eight and Beale (with some defensive and positional work at fullback) a great backline will develop.

              • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:58pm
                Crazy Horse said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

                Barmes at 10 guarantees that the backline will not fire as he will not pass except to his mates.

              • December 4th 2012 @ 12:15am
                Ra said | December 4th 2012 @ 12:15am | ! Report

                I dunno what strategic eye glass you guys view the game through, but through mine I saw the genius of a master coach at work in the selection of Mitchell on the left wing.

                I too was looking for that sharp pace we are use to seeing scorching down the sideline, but it took only a couple of runs for me to see that that blinding pace was not yet there.

                What i did see though was the experience of a genuine veteran Test and super rugby player coming through. That powerful and educated left boot of Mitchell’s carved off metres of land time and again getting his side out of trouble.

                He made the left hand side a defensive fortress in the second half when yardage was measured in inches.

                Yes Wales broke down there once, but Mitchell on that left wing was like a good ole Aussie outhouse. He charged the ball back like a 6, because of his loss of pace, stood strong in the tackle like an 8, and refused to go down till his support got there.

                He showed awareness by moving the ball away from the touchline in one move, running in and drawing in numbers of tired defence to him, setting up the ensuring ruck with quality laid back ball that contributed to the winning try down the other side of the field.

                Those who wanted Ioane on the field instead lack the strategic overview. Even i doubted Mitchell’s readiness, but two guys thankfully for the team didn’t, Mitchell and his coach. The extra pace of Hooper, Ioane and Harris coming on when they did swung the game, but it was the hard fought yards by the guys already in the arm wrestle who set the platform.

                Did anyone else see what I saw?????

              • December 5th 2012 @ 4:59am
                Cliff (Bishkek) said | December 5th 2012 @ 4:59am | ! Report

                Ra — correct — I am not a Mitchell fan but what you say is correct — he used his brains and today the Wallabies lack braisn and good old fashioned leadership on the field

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:45am
        Allanthus said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        Nice to see England in white too….

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:19am
        carvin said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        Beale had a crap game as a 10. It was a good try, but more of the same stop start jiggy jigs stopping all momentum. Mitchell got eh ball a lot and had a couple of nice touches, but mostly got the ball and ran straight into 4 defenders. Backline very pedestrian as a whole again. Even the Welsh commentary on Channel 10 lamented over and over again the lack of imagination and crispness now expected as the norm for Wallabies teams.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:42pm
          Mango Jack said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Yes. Why don’t any of them run angles anymore? Halfpenny showed the value of a well time angled run when he broke the Aus line. Instead, we have Beale running sideways, eventually passing to someone who runs straight into a defender. I don’t get it.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:34am
      KevKom said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      If the All Blacks have to lose,. and have to lose to England of all teams, it seems so much more palatable losing to a team that plays good rugby. Boy did England take it to New Zealand and thoroughly deserved their win Their forwards have often set up a decent platform, as they did again this time, but more often than not the backs have not delivered. This time they did.
      Sure they AB might have been off their game a bit (just shows that the margin between top teams is actually quite small), and sure the referee made a few home-town decisions (the Kieran Read one – really?) but this was exciting rugby and a result that was great for the game. Well done England.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:40am
      katzilla said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      There will be a few extra English names on Gatlands little list today.
      Wouldn’t at all be surprised if by the time the Lions tour comes around someone like Launchberry finds himself in a red jersey.
      Infact he wouldn’t be doing a bad thing for Lions rugby to just bring that English pack out here in red.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:24am
        Viscount Crouchback said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Launchbury is a must for the Lions, imo – he’s one of those natural rugby players who simply knows instinctively where to be and what to do. And he makes no errors.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:06am
          Riccardo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Congratulations on an outstanding victory for your boys Viscount.

          Bodes well for next year’s Lions tour.

    • Columnist

      December 3rd 2012 @ 7:42am
      Geoff Parkes said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Spiro, not sure i agree with some of your analysis there… for starters Sharp didn’t drop kick the conversion. Wales’ line out was terrible all day, why should they have kicked the ball out? They should surely have held on to the ball and ground it out for the last couple of minutes. It always amazes me when players lose their composure and kick the ball away in panic, a la McKibbin for the Waratahs v Qld. And like Phipps did a couple of times in this match.

      I think that the win for the Wallabies was much more significant than the loss for NZ. The AB’s will be hurt and disappointed but it won’t carry over negatively for next year. They looked to be out of gas for the last match and a half, and were always going to be vulnerable against a side which took it up to them positively, and executed well. Which England did and good luck to them.

      Confidence is a very important thing to take into the off season and the late Beale try will make the world of difference to the mindset of the team for next year. Never mind that it was another irritating, frustrating performance for most of it – they will remember that they got the job done in the end, and even with a little bit of style.

      Deans hasn’t always used his bench well but the replacements offered plenty – I liked how Harris straightened the attack a couple of times. Pocock was massive considering his time off. And Sharp had a great final match and deserves to go out a winner.

      Many of these players need a decent rest, as does the pro Deans v anti Deans argument. Let’s hope the confidence from this win, plus a healthy Genia, Horwill and co allow the 2013 Wallabies to play BOTH successful and attractive rugby.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:55am
        blind freddie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        You can hope for successfull and attractive rugby from the Wallabies all you like, as I do, but until the Deans issue is resolved with his departure, you will just see the same old thing, this is not somehing that can be resolved by one or two players being fit. A complete change of tactics and selections has to be in place.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 1:56pm
          Dave said | December 3rd 2012 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          Exactly right blind freddie. People are always suggesting that when our injury situation improves and our main players return, then suddenly our play will improve. It wont. We will just have a couple of more talented individuals (JOC, Genia etc) who can pull off a brilliant play to win games from nowhere (as seen on the weekend).

          The style will still be abysmal, the crowds will still stay away, and Australian rugby will continue to bore the world to tears.

          Get rid of Deans, and watch these talented individuals play as an intelligent team.

          • Roar Guru

            December 3rd 2012 @ 7:58pm
            jeznez said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

            Deans had a constructive backline in 2010 that scored great tries. I don’t think it is as black and white as sacking the bloke to solve the problems. It isn’t like the alternatives are banging down the door either.

            I hope that Robbie can get the team functioning more like they did 2yrs ago, if he can’t then his contract will be up next year.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:53pm
            Malo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

            Genia is a huge loss and the firepower will develop, maybe get Mark Ella to coach and help with the angles boy he could find holes in any defense.

        • December 4th 2012 @ 12:26am
          Ra said | December 4th 2012 @ 12:26am | ! Report

          another pair of idots who hate winning, my team lost lind freddie and dave you pair of whingers – celebrate your team’s win

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:12am
        Terry Kidd said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        Spiro I have to agree with Allanthus. Your analysis is wrong in many areas and lacking in others. Dennis received a pass on the wing, did not run into a gap. Beale ranged up on his inside, not his outside. Sharpe did a place kick, not a drop goal.

        Australia kicked for the majority of the match, in my opinion far too often, and ignored running options. Barnes was to blame for many of these errors.

        I actually thought that the turning point was Harris coming on at Fullback, Beale moving to 12 and Barnes to 10 …. to me that signalled run the ball.

        And one England win over a tired and unenthusiastic ABs makes them the team to beat in 2015 ???? Spiro that comment cannot be justified in any way, shape or form.

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