Smith’s fairytale return turns to nightmare in Wallabies’ 41-16 loss

By Darren Walton, Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

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55 Have your say

    George Smith has signed with the Reds. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) .

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    This was not the Wallabies return the great George Smith had in mind.

    Making his comeback and farewell to Test rugby on the very same night, Smith endured one of the most forgettable Tests of his 111-match international career as the Wallabies crashed to a painful series loss to the British and Irish Lions.

    Playing his first Test in four years, Smith was on, off, on, off, on and finally off ANZ Stadium for one last time as a 41-16 loser.

    Early on, it looked like his swansong would last but four minutes and 39 seconds after the champion flanker clashed heads with Lions hooker Richard Hibbard and was escorted off in a groggy state.

    But living up to coach Robbie Deans’ assessment as the most resilient No.7 he’d ever seen, Smith was back in the thick of the action less than five minutes later.

    But there was to be no fairytale.

    There were no telling turnovers either and most certainly no repeat of his 2001 series triumph over the Lions.

    Smith was none too pleased when Deans briefly substituted him after 26 minutes when prop Ben Alexander was sin-binned for collapsing the Australian scrum.

    Turning 33 next week, Smith’s inclusion was the feelgood story of the week for the Wallabies in the build-up to the most significant home Test since the 2003 Rugby World Cup final at the very same venue.

    But it was the Lions No.7 Sean O’Brien instead who stole the spotlight.

    And as if to rub Deans’ nose in it, Lions coach and fellow Kiwi Warren Gatland showed there was no room for sentiment on such a grand occasion.

    While Deans was lauded for recalling Smith, Gatland was widely condemned for dumping Irish superstar Brian O’Driscoll for the series climax.

    Gatland, though, had the last laugh, with the Welshman who wore O’Driscoll’s No.13 jumper, Jonathan Davies, delivering the sweet last pass for Jonny Sexton’s second-half try that sealed the Wallabies’ fate.

    All up, Gatland selected 10 Welshman in his starting XV and on this rare occasion Smith was unable to keep up with the Jones’s.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • July 6th 2013 @ 10:20pm
      CKG said | July 6th 2013 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

      Well played by the lions. We went out thinking we’d win. They thought they’d lose. Wallabies did well to play all three tests without a flyhalf. Deans belligerence cost us dearly!!!

      • July 6th 2013 @ 11:17pm
        Bazza Allblack Supporter said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

        Poor forwards cost you game not number 10. Coopers style of play old have been a liability based on how Lions playing tonight..

    • July 6th 2013 @ 10:25pm
      Misha said | July 6th 2013 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

      Needed to eat less pies – looked overweight

    • July 6th 2013 @ 10:48pm
      yeah, right! said | July 6th 2013 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

      Australia lost the scrum battle, but rugby lost the sports battle. When you automatically receive a penalty for dominating the scrum, not much else matters. Watching minutes tick by as fat guys lie around faking injuries, forwards huddle to discuss lineout calls, players attend to blood on the field, and penalties are taken is a serious joke. Remove scrum penalties from all games. A dominant scrum should be rewarded with possession, not 3 points. That is what happens in every other facet of rugby union.

      • July 6th 2013 @ 11:13pm
        Dean Vincent said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

        Get real mate. Scrums are an integral part of rugby union. Go and watch league if you think otherwise.

        Also Please clarify this statement “That is what happens in every other facet of rugby union”. I’m intrigued.

        Wallabies were hammered. End of.

        • July 7th 2013 @ 12:01am
          yeah, right! said | July 7th 2013 @ 12:01am | ! Report

          I love scrums and rugby. Keep scrums, but get rid of scrum penalties they are scourge on the game.

          To clarify my statement: if you throw a crooked lineout feed, a free kick ensues. If you completely dominate the lineout you win posession, not a penalty. If you dominate the breakdown by counter rucking over the ball, you win possession not a penalty. If you dominate the maul by trapping the ball and holding it up you win possession, not a penalty. The scrum is the only facet of play where the dominant team automatically receives a penalty.

          Finally the fact the Wallabies lost and were outplayed comprehensively doesn’t mean shit.

          • July 7th 2013 @ 12:37am
            Dean Vincent said | July 7th 2013 @ 12:37am | ! Report

            So because your team has weak scrum you change the rules?

            • July 7th 2013 @ 2:14pm
              Minz said | July 7th 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

              I dunno, it seems a valid point – why is the scrum so special? I mean, as a former front-rower (albeit only a hooker), I know the scrum’s special 😉 Just didn’t realise it was so privileged in the rule-book!

              Unless they’re considering poor play at a scrum to be dangerous and hence a penalty? Would seem a bit odd since it’s the dominant side which causes the scrum to come down a lot of the time.

        • July 7th 2013 @ 12:30am
          bennalong said | July 7th 2013 @ 12:30am | ! Report

          Why don’t we see more of this penalty fest at scrum time Dean? Please enlighten me

          Why don’t the Kiwis use it against us weekly?

          Seems like a great way to win games

          Only most refs realise they don’t have a clue what’s going on in scrums, so they prefer to reset them to discourage the rubbish milking.

          • July 7th 2013 @ 12:43am
            Dean Vincent said | July 7th 2013 @ 12:43am | ! Report

            What are you going on about??? What have the Kiwis got to do with anything??

            The Lions clearly had a stronger scrum. Why would a team try and milk a penalty when they’re shunting the other team forward at a rate of knots?

            The two Lions props are two of the strongest in world rugby. Allied with Hibbard that is a formidable front row. There is no shame in being bettered by them.

            If the Lions had been hammered at scrum time, I would have no qualms about it. Indeed when Wales have not had Adam Jones at tight head in recent years they have been in all sorts of bother. My answer to this is that Wales need to find a decent tight-head prop rather than moan about the rules.

      • July 6th 2013 @ 11:17pm
        Steve said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

        Odd, I’ve never read a comment that only makes sense when you add the poster’s name to the bottom, but there it is…

        ‘ Yeah, right! ‘ indeed!

      • July 7th 2013 @ 3:40am
        Silver_Sovereign said | July 7th 2013 @ 3:40am | ! Report

        excellent points made. This is why the game is a distant third behind AFL and league in this country. The average person in the street wouldn’t even know the name of the Wallabies captain.
        The penalties are ridiculous when it comes to scrums. Even the commentators struggle to tell the audience what they are for at times. Plus a team will have all the momentum and choose to go for three points, when they should be going for a try. A tactic that has cost Australia big time in the last few years.
        That’s a big pain for me is the faking of injuries and the constant lying on the ground of rugby forwards waiting to get a breather and a drink from the trainer. The stop start nature of the game is becoming almost as bad as gridiron. Certainly not gaining fans with all this

        • Roar Guru

          July 7th 2013 @ 4:11am
          biltongbek said | July 7th 2013 @ 4:11am | ! Report

          I agree about the scrums. Taking away a match from a team via penalty after penalty is not the way to score points.

          If you dominate in a team in the scrums, great, benefit from it, but making up an innings by expecting the referee to give you penalties leaves a sour taste in my mouth, at one point the Lions Hooker Hibbard popped up, Robinson got penalized for scrumming up, then later On Moore popped up, instead of penalised Corbisiero for scrumming up, Moore was penalised for popping up, how does that make sense?

          • July 7th 2013 @ 4:48am
            Colin N said | July 7th 2013 @ 4:48am | ! Report


            The wonderful thing about rugby is that there are several ways of obtaining a victory and several factors which contributes to a victory. The scrum is just one of those and, credit to the selectors, they picked a pack to dominate that area and they did just that.

            I guess you weren’t complaining when South Africa’s’ scrum dominance’ formed the basis of their first Test win in 2009?

            • Roar Guru

              July 7th 2013 @ 5:51am
              biltongbek said | July 7th 2013 @ 5:51am | ! Report

              You misunderstand what I am getting at. Scrum penalties even when one team dominates are a lottery, and when one team dominates the referee immediately assumes it must be because of the weaker team infringing.

              • July 7th 2013 @ 9:44am
                Colin N said | July 7th 2013 @ 9:44am | ! Report

                Not particularly. Saying that is different from saying:

                “If you dominate in a team in the scrums, great, benefit from it, but making up an innings by expecting the referee to give you penalties leaves a sour taste in my mouth.”

                You are saying here that you didn’t like the fact that the Lions based their game plan around the scrum and apparently played on Poite’s view of the set-piece.

                “and when one team dominates the referee immediately assumes it must be because of the weaker team infringing.”

                Well, yes, that’s generally what happens – a team dominates, the weaker team infringes, penalty to the dominant team. It was pretty easy for Poite and he generally refereed that area well. The dominant team will hardly want to infringe when they are in the ascendency.

                To be fair, the scrum that saw Alexander sin-binned I thought was harsh, it should have really seen a re-set, but apart from that Australia can have no complaints.

              • Roar Guru

                July 8th 2013 @ 12:05am
                biltongbek said | July 8th 2013 @ 12:05am | ! Report

                OK, let me ask you this, did you watch the Cheetahs vs Blues yesterday?

                Did you see what a lottery those scrums were?

                Neither team dominated the scrums the whole time, but for different periods of the match, effectively that scenario can cause a match to be decided on scrum penalties, are you OK with that?

          • Roar Guru

            July 7th 2013 @ 10:16am
            Rugby Fan said | July 7th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

            Graham Price, former Lions prop, agrees with you in his piece on the Walesonline site.

            What I find a bit strange is that Corbisiero scrummaged illegally at times because he knew that Alexander had milked penalties the previous week by turning in on Vunipola.

            Nick Bishop wrote a prescient piece on Green and Gold where he predicted Poite would penalize the Wallaby scrum and also predicted an early yellow card. When someone asked him why Corbs was allowed to scrummage illegally, he wrote:

            “It’s just one illegality responding to another. Either the loose-head can stay out and let the tight-head do his thing – as Vunipola did at the start of the Melbourne Test. In that case he’s pretty useless. Or he can follow the angle inside and defend his hooker like Corbisiero”

            I’m relieved we did get the benefit at the scrum – I’m still a bit traumatized by the scrum refereeing in the 2003 World Cup final – but I don’t like the way this set piece generates so many penalties.

            There was one scrum early in the game which seemed to go completely pear-shaped but Poite just let it play out, without penalizing anyone. Former England prop David Flatman on Twitter wrote “Ref letting a scrum develop and take care of itself? Love it.”

            I’d prefer that approach to a stream of penalties.

    • July 6th 2013 @ 11:02pm
      Creme pie said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

      Gatland is a genious, the Gurus here and Deans are laughing stocks

      • July 6th 2013 @ 11:18pm
        ALX said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:18pm | ! Report

        i worry for Rugby as a sport – the Refereeing was abysmal, casual viewers would be horrified by the mystifying penalties, and egotistical dominance of the Ref on the game so early. the game was over before it had a chance to start.
        The Lions played very well, with a #10 who knows how to play, and a forward pack who know how to ruck and retain possession.

    • July 6th 2013 @ 11:18pm
      Pabs said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:18pm | ! Report

      Far too many welsh and leaving BOD out what was Gatland thinking.

      • July 6th 2013 @ 11:20pm
        Steve said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:20pm | ! Report

        Yes, reeks of desperation doesn’t it?
        Ha ha ha ha ha!

    • July 6th 2013 @ 11:19pm
      Nova said | July 6th 2013 @ 11:19pm | ! Report

      Thought he went ok but he’s not the George of old Misha is right he looks like he ate all the pies. Great player in his day but should never have come out of retirement. Hooper and Gill are good enough replacements.

      • July 7th 2013 @ 2:17pm
        Minz said | July 7th 2013 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

        He’s been the George of old this year for the Brums when he’s not concussed… no way should he have been let back on given how big his wobbly boots were!!

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