O’Connor strikes for the Wallabies – at last

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    James O'Connor would make a Wallabies third XV. (Tim Anger Photography)

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    It took controversial Wallaby flyhalf James O’Connor 156 minutes to do something meaningful against the Lions. But it was well worth the wait.

    His perfectly timed pass to Adam Ashley-Cooper put the outside centre into a hole as wide as Sydney Heads for what turned out to be the match-winning, and series-saving try – and a come-from-behind 16-15 scoreline.

    Up until then O’Connor was just making up the Wallaby numbers.

    He had a first-Test shocker, and was treading the same path last night in the second Test of dropping regulation passes, throwing wayward passes and missing tackles, until that magic 76th moment in front of a record Etihad Stadium crowd of 56,771, who almost raised the closed roof.

    But the job wasn’t done. The conversion had to be successful.

    Step up Christian Lealiifano for the biggest moment of his rugby life. Having been pole-axed 50 seconds into his Test debut last week, and carted off, this was effectively his debut.

    He had landed three from three penalties to keep the Wallabies in touch, but this conversion was very missable a long way out.

    With ice flowing through his veins, Lealiifano struck the ball true. It never looked like missing, and the Wallaby win was secure.

    There’s not a struck match between these two sides with scorelines of Lions 23-21 and Wallabies 16-15. So the series decider next Saturday night at ANZ Stadium promises to be a cracker for an 80,000-plus crowd.

    What can we expect, even demand?

    More than anything, a referee who will give both teams room and time to unleash their running rugby instead of pinging them off the paddock as Chris Pollock and Craig Joubert have done in the first two Tests.

    And no doubt Frenchman Romain Poite will do the same in Sydney unless the IRB tells him to pull his head in and be No. 31 on show, and not No. 1.

    Both sides must improve their handling, especially the Wallabies.

    With 54 percent possession last night, dominating the rucks and mauls 106-47, making 107 runs to 56, making 501 metres to 229, and forcing the Lions to make 167 tackles to 72, the Wallabies should have romped it in.

    But they very nearly blew it by turning over possession 20-11 with elementary schoolboy mistakes, and it was frustrating to watch.

    Both sides are also guilty of starving their wingers, all of them match-winners – Wallabies Israel Folau and Digby Ioane in the first Test, Folau and Joe Tomane last night.

    For the Lions, George North and Alex Cuthbert in the first, with North and Tommy Bowe in the second.

    Importantly, skippers James Horwill and Sam Warburton could both be missing for the decider.

    Horwill must beat a stomping charge for the second time, and he’s on rocky ground – Warburton a hamstring tear.

    Standing by to take over – Wallaby Will Genia, the man of the series, and Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll, just seven caps away from ousting George Gregan’s 139 as international rugby’s most capped player.

    For mine, Genia is the difference where there’s nothing between the two sides.

    He never ceases to amaze with his consistent creativity, and inspiration.

    This has been a magnificent series, with just the decider to go.

    Both sides have proved they can be decent disciples of the game they play in heaven.

    And both can be better. Let next Saturday be that time.

    Romain Poite take note.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (230)

    • June 30th 2013 @ 9:06am
      ohtani's jacket said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      How on earth was anything in that match Craig Joubert’s fault? Joubert made a number of excellent calls and didn’t favour one side or the other. If both sides are going to play the jackler style then there’s going to be breakdown penalties. That’s the intention of jackling.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 9:12am
        handles said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        I don’t even know what “jackling” means, but I agree with you anyway! I thought Pollock was ordinary around the breakdown, and let both sides get away with too much. But I thought Joubert was pretty good.

        • June 30th 2013 @ 9:45am
          Jerry said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Jackalling is the classic openside style attempt to steal the ball at the tackle or win a penalty for holding on. What David Pocock does best and what the Lions were doing all night to the Wallabies.

          • Roar Guru

            June 30th 2013 @ 10:30am
            jeznez said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            I thought it was specific to the tackler regaining his feet and getting on the ball. Thought that jackal was a play on jackle/tackle. Am I wrong? Is it not that specific?

            • June 30th 2013 @ 11:25am
              Jerry said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              Nah, I think it’s anyone playing the ball on the deck. I figured it’s cause the Jackal is often thought of as a scavenger (though it’s often not).

        • June 30th 2013 @ 12:20pm
          Badjack said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          Hi Handles……..’I don’t even know what jackling means, but I agree with you anyway”
          that sounds very much like a Bill Shorten famous quote. Are you sure you are not Wee Willy in disguise.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 9:39am
        stillmissit said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Correct OJ. Not one of Jouberts greatest games but clear and unbiased.

        • June 30th 2013 @ 10:08am
          charlie mackay said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Not one of his greatest games, but clear and unbiased…. Somewhat of a paradox there chum. If a referee is clear and unbiased, then I don’t know what more you could possibly want?

          • Roar Pro

            June 30th 2013 @ 11:39am
            Alexander Grant said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            If you give equally poor calls at times to both sides then the refereeing can be deemed not great, yet unbiased and mostly clear πŸ˜‰

            • June 30th 2013 @ 2:26pm
              SandBox said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              Can’t agree, Joubert is a prima Donna who makes me people watch other codes with his penalty-fests

              His title ‘worlds greatest referee’ is about as useful as an Entomologist finding the ‘worlds greatest White Ant’

              • Roar Rookie

                June 30th 2013 @ 10:41pm
                Rassie said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

                No. I think its your bias point of view watching the game, lack of knowledge of the laws as well as mindset rugby should entertain nothing else.

                If you want entertainment then go watch league then.

              • June 30th 2013 @ 10:48pm
                Garth said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

                Think of how bad it could be if we had football (soccer)-type refs? You know, truly blind & unable to recognise a dive at point blank range, etc, just like all the European football leagues have.

        • June 30th 2013 @ 12:53pm
          bennalong said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

          Stillmissit

          If you come down in favour of the defender, the David Pococks rule as do the defending sides.

          Now we all know, especially of recent times, it isn’t like that! Pocock was taken out of the game by refs, especially in the Northern Hemisphere

          So Joubert can referee that rule evenly, but in doing so he is acting AGAINST the attacking team.

          As he did when giving scrum penalties which the Lions could expect the better end of

          • July 1st 2013 @ 7:44am
            stillmissit said | July 1st 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

            Good point Bennelong: Refs should not advantage the Attacking team nor the defending team, but make the calls on the situation they are confronted with. This includes their own whims and fancies and indeed their own biases, although I argue that in some instances they are not premeditated.

            Joubert is the best of them to my mind and I have never seen him biased. The problem we have is that we don’t adapt to the ref of the day as the Kiwi’s do, to some extent. Kaplan is the worst for Australian teams and sees problems no other ref can see, but we feed him copiously so we should not complain. He is an ass and I am glad he is going.

            Scrum penalties are something that should be clear and obvious as no body knows what is going on in their, and the front row are not speaking the truth at any time…

        • July 2nd 2013 @ 5:57pm
          George Bowen said | July 2nd 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          Unbiased? Surely you jest. The man couldn’t give an Australian side a fair go if he tried.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 10:28am
        Hambone said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        all u want from a ref is consistency, and he was pretty good until then end..
        then i felt he started pinging the home side a little to freely.
        that last penalty in that part of the game was pretty bludey soft, and for such a crucial time was pretty pathetic i felt.
        could have turned out to be an australian version of sth africans love affair with bryce..
        xx

        • June 30th 2013 @ 11:59am
          superba said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

          You must be kidding !!!!
          Bryce stands alone in his effort that day . He is without equal .

      • Roar Guru

        June 30th 2013 @ 6:06pm
        PeterK said | June 30th 2013 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

        Joubert reffed quite well, not his fault players infringe so much.

    • June 30th 2013 @ 9:08am
      handles said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Well done the Wallabies. A stuttering performance, but great determination, and wonderful defence and application.

      One good pass doesn’t get a pass mark. O’Connor was plain terrible. I said on the other thread that Robbie appears to be worried about a 10 that doesn’t defend in the front line, but OK with one that doesn’t attack in the front line.

      David, I had a chuckle when Sexton missed touch from a penalty. A few weeks ago when Quade did it you argued that was an inexcusable error. The situation was exactly the same, late in the first half, penalty awarded about 60 out. Go for extra distance, in the worst case, the opposition kick it out and you still get the lineout. In the best case you get extra metres.

      Add to that a few “no look passes to nobody”, and I thought you would be erecting the crosses this morning for a double crucifixion.

      Sexton even went as far as to tell his winger to “make sure you chase hard” last night before he kicked.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 10:31am
        Hambone said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        i agree..
        o’connor was horrible last night.
        with the number 10 not performing leaves the whole backline missing any magic..
        the one or two set plays they did manage to get running were closed down before they even got moving..
        i know its a contentious topic, but its time to go to quade..
        have to..
        and george whilst we are at it

        • June 30th 2013 @ 12:23pm
          Badjack said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          The more O’Connor is on display as a No 10 the more Cooper looks like a genius.

          • June 30th 2013 @ 5:59pm
            Matt said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

            Ha! True! πŸ˜€

          • June 30th 2013 @ 10:45pm
            Mary contrary said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

            Cooper is a genius.

          • July 1st 2013 @ 8:34am
            nugget said | July 1st 2013 @ 8:34am | ! Report

            Oh for a Genia, Cooper, Leiliafano combination!

      • June 30th 2013 @ 3:13pm
        Gatesy said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

        Why is Deans so inflexible and bloody minded?

        It was ovbviousl to all and sundry last night that O’Connor should have been hooked at the 50 minute mark, Beale put to no 10 and Mogg brought on at 15 – would have put the Wallabies into an attacking mindset and Beale or any half decent no 10 could have put AAC through that hole.

        • July 1st 2013 @ 8:36am
          nugget said | July 1st 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Yep. Mogg was wasted. Get rid of O’Connor and Beale. What a team it might have been. And will be when that stick in the mud coach is gone.

        • July 2nd 2013 @ 6:02pm
          George Bowen said | July 2nd 2013 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

          Because he’s from where he’s from.

          Not that Beale would have been any better than young waste-of-space Ocker. In fact Beale would probably have fallen over.

    • June 30th 2013 @ 9:09am
      Steve said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Once again blame the referee. If a bowler keeps bowling no balls they get penalised, if a boxer punches below the belt he gets penalised. If players want to insist on lying all over the ball, continue to be offside etc they get penalised.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • Roar Guru

      June 30th 2013 @ 9:10am
      WEST said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      sorry I must of blinked and missed it, he looked crap he lacks the ability to coordinate attacks and no leadership to guide and structure his backline. Then when he screws up he starts yelling at them. Hate to say it but QC would do a far better job.

    • Roar Guru

      June 30th 2013 @ 9:11am
      Rickety Knees said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Totally agree about Poite – he needs to be the 31st player and let the game flow. The difficulty for the Wallabies will be his NH interpretations. He is a showboat ……

      • Roar Guru

        June 30th 2013 @ 5:12pm
        biltongbek said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

        Poite allowed Scotland to do what ever they wanted against the Boks, he allows players off their feet, he allows them to swim in mauls and he isn’t very strict on the offside line at the breakdown, the Aussies will do well to know this and counter the Lions with force and the approriate numbers at the breakdown, best yet, they must try to avoid the breakdowns as much as they possibly can, look to offload before contact, keep the ball in the air.

    • June 30th 2013 @ 9:12am
      Rock said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      David, O’Conner still had a terrible game, to say it was well timed pass doesn’t make up for the fact of his previous 76 minutes, plus you could have thrown that pass

      • June 30th 2013 @ 7:51pm
        Schuey said | June 30th 2013 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

        It was O’connors pace not his pass that created the try. Davies saw old man o’driscoll 1 on 1 with o’connor and thought about helping for a split second. That hesitation freed up coops.

        So i guess u could say o’connor created it via the defenders wariness of his pace. The pass was a formality frm that moment.

        The pass didnt create the try. It was done and dusted by then.

        • July 1st 2013 @ 6:52am
          Mike said | July 1st 2013 @ 6:52am | ! Report

          Finally an intelligent analysis of that play. Thank you.

          The only thing I would add is that AAC was running a far better angle than Folau did earlier.

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