The Wrap: Lions, Tigers and tape herald the Wallabies’ coming of age

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    The Wallabies’ inspiring 23-18 win over the All Blacks doesn’t all of a sudden mean that Michael Cheika is the coaching genius Steve Hansen isn’t, but it is certainly a validation of Cheika’s methods, as it is a reward for more consistency in selection during 2017.

    It also puts a tangible stamp on the steady improvement in performance that has been evident since half-time of the first Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney.

    Cheika is, by any measure, his own man, but it seems evident that he has identified and harnessed key winning attributes from other sides, applied them to his own situation, and empowered his players to do the rest.

    The All Blacks have now lost twice this year and drawn once. Last year they fell in Chicago against Ireland – all in similar circumstances. On each occasion, their much-vaunted attacking game has been denied them, and the opposition has reaped the reward.

    While some point to a combination of circumstances (slippery conditions, send-offs, tough refereeing calls, unusual build-ups) the underlying factor is that, on these occasions, Ireland, the Lions, and now the Wallabies were successful in having the game played on their terms, not the All Blacks’.

    They did this mostly through the application of consistent defensive pressure that contained two distinct characteristics:

    • Pressure and intensity that didn’t peter out after 20 or 30 minutes of bluster, but was maintained throughout the whole match, and
    • The application of not just perceived pressure, where players rushed up into the All Blacks’ faces, but actual pressure, created by the ball carrier being effectively tackled

    Any rugby fan who watched this year’s AFL grand final, even with only a rudimentary knowledge of the game, should have been able to identify how the Richmond Tigers consistently applied defensive pressure in all areas of the field, denying the talented Adelaide players time and space to get their powerful attacking game rolling.

    The overriding feeling at the end of that match from Crows players and fans was not just the crushing disappointment that comes with losing a grand final, but the frustration that they had actually been denied an opportunity to show off their skills and play in the manner in which they would have expected to have been able to do.

    On the surface, Reece Hodge’s early intercept try seemed a copy of Israel Folau’s in Dunedin, but in fact, this was something else entirely. In Dunedin, Damien McKenzie was making play, sniffing a try. Here, using pace and determination to execute a clear defensive strategy, Will Genia converted a prime attacking opportunity for the All Blacks – stable scrum ball on the 22 with room to go either side – into a liability by harassing Lima Sopoaga into offering up a lame pop onto Hodge’s chest.

    Sopoaga seemed half a yard off the pace of the game all night. Not because he is a laggard, but because the Wallabies were determined to take advantage of Beauden Barrett’s absence and not allow Sopoaga any time on the front foot.

    So often do running All Blacks ride through or slip off the first tackle – their catalyst for waves of support players to join the attack – they find it very difficult to adjust mid-match when those first-up tackles are made. Accordingly, the creation of momentum from rushing into a half-gap is replaced by a static re-formation behind the advantage line, which then feeds into pushing 50/50 passes and low-margin grubber kicks.

    This is what the Lions achieved in June and what the Wallabies did on Saturday night.

    Even when the All Blacks did have success – Sonny-Bill Williams squeezing out an offload with a defender spider-webbed all over him, for Keiran Read to send Rieko Ioane away – it was so hard-earned and so ugly, that it never felt like it could easily happen again.

    In total, the Wallabies missed 11 tackles. On another night maybe just another meaningless statistic, but on this night, it was an exemplary measure of not only the effectiveness of Cheika’s strategy, but also much-improved execution.

    Michael Cheika Wallabies

    (Photo by Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

    As is often the case in these late-season Brisbane Tests, this was not a pretty match. But during the second half, the ugliness actually took on a form of beauty, as player after player – from both sides – rose to new heights of physical endeavor, reaching deep down inside some dark place dark to find enough extra energy to hammer a player in the tackle or at cleanout.

    A wander back through the last 17 years of New Zealand’s Bledisloe dominance shows numerous examples of the All Black forward pack upping the physical ante in the third quarter, opening a path for a comfortable victory in the fourth.

    This time the Wallabies pack stayed with the Blacks. And their delight in doing so was palpably obvious.

    To call it dominance would be overreach but no matter, despite being challenged physically, Wallabies like Lukhan Tui increasingly took the hits on the front foot without coughing up possession, so that the Australian possession advantage – normally something the All Blacks don’t fret about too much – became significant.

    One factor responsible for this has its roots in images of Wallabies players earlier this season being forced to train with tape over their mouths – one of a few strategies employed by Cheika to improve the fitness level of his players.

    For too long Wallabies fans have been apologists for players like Tolu Latu and Andrew Ready not being offered opportunities at the highest level because of state biases or selector incompetence. But Test rugby as it was played in the second half of this match, and in the recent All Blacks versus South Africa match in Cape Town, is a place where men make extreme sacrifices.

    That Cheika was prepared to move on players not willing or able to commit to reaching that level, and is now able to reap the benefits of a squad noticeably operating on a higher fitness plane than Wallabies sides of recent years, is full credit to him.

    On attack, both Genia and Folau continued their strong form, Folau easily finishing one try himself in traffic before expertly keeping Waisake Naholo at bay for long enough to prevent McKenzie shutting down Marika Koroibete’s space in the corner.

    Moreso, this was the type of ‘knock ‘em down, do it again’ type of game just made for Sean McMahon, who emerged as the dominant player in the match. His 73rd minute re-gather of a loose line-out throw, on a tank that must have been well beyond empty, was both breathtaking and brilliant.

    With all the money the ARU has spent on legal fees recently, let’s hope they know a good lawyer who is fluent in Japanese.

    Australia's Sean McMahon

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    Referee Wayne Barnes typically contributed his best and worst to the contest. On the plus side, he was accurate and firmly asserted control on a contest that, had it been left to a few nob-headed players, would have boiled over into something nasty.

    But his late call of obstruction against Ofa Tu’ungafasi was classic Barnes. It was a poor call – not just because there are a hundred other instances of incidental contact in any match that aren’t penalised – but because a raw, guttural contest where two opponents are slugging it out toe to toe simply doesn’t need the additional flourish of an attention-seeking referee desperate not to be left out of the band.

    That said, without it, we would have been robbed of Hodge’s remarkable 54m thump!

    The New Zealand view was predictably one of Steve Hansen being prepared – mid-cycle between World Cups – to have his young players learn more from defeat than victory. But there will also be a nagging concern that too many such lessons might start to tug at their self-belief. In that respect, their end of year tour shapes as a very important mission.

    It isn’t all upside for Australia either. The squad is denied the reward of basking in the glow of victory, reflecting on their achievement before slowly ramping up the intensity level again for their tour, because of an appallingly scheduled Barbarians match next Saturday in Sydney.

    It is revealing that, with just a single victory against the All Blacks, the fickle Australian media yesterday restored the Wallabies to lead story on the ABC sports news (including Melbourne), and to high-ranking slots on various general news websites. Everyone it seems loves a winner.

    In that respect, there is a view that any publicity for Australian rugby is good publicity. And lord knows, every extra dollar or two through the gate is welcome.

    But the players surely don’t need the run (the Wallabies side announced yesterday contains only two starting players and fringe squad players can play NRC), and for anyone who isn’t a rusted-on rugby fan, a match against a scratch side with a celebrity coach lacks any meaningful context.

    And if it isn’t the ‘real’ Wallabies who run out on Saturday, then why call them the Wallabies? And why diminish the NRC in the process?

    In horse racing terms, the Wallabies have already been ‘up’ for a long preparation, through intense pre-training, the June internationals, the Rugby Championship and this extra Bledisloe match. They face Test matches on successive weekends against Japan, Wales, England and Scotland.

    Now is the time for both players and coach to enjoy a couple of days off to ‘freshen up’ before a final tilt at spring riches.

    What this excellent win in Brisbane has done is allow the Wallabies to raise the performance bar another couple of notches – this being the notional level below which this side won’t regress. Another way of saying that the performance level shown against Italy in June, for example, is now unacceptable for a team of this standing.

    Given the punishing fixture, however, it will be perfectly understandable if linear progress is not maintained and there is a ‘shocker’ lurking somewhere in the final month.

    The ARU must be delighted that – all of a sudden – the Australian rugby brand is once again being viewed in a positive light.

    But if it is player exhaustion, or more withdrawals like that of Israel Folau, that ultimately costs the Wallabies a victory at Cardiff, Twickenham or Murrayfield, then the ARU must seriously question their own role in enhancing that brand.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (173)

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:38am
      Bluesfan said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Before everyone gets to excited about the Wallabies rising to the top or making a significant step forward – maybe they should ask themselves how would the Wallabies have gone if the following players were not available for them on Saturday Night:

      Sio, Kep, Coleman, Foley, Folau – because the reality is that the AB’s were missing the equivalent players in Moody, Franks, Retallick, Smith, Barrett and I guess you could throw in Dagg, NMS, J.Barrett as well.

      Whilst it was Fantastic for Oz rugby for them finally to get the win and give them the shot in the arm they need – to actually say that it’s a meaningful step forward you need to see them perform in Europe and now without Folau.

      If they can win in Europe and hopefully they can – then they are stepping up in a meaningful way – otherwise they are still the same side that lost to Scotland, nearly lost to Italy and could not gain a win against SA in Oz.

      For the AB’s – the cracks are starting to show in that European Rugby is starting to have an effect – Consider that for the Lions series they could bring on two players with a combined 100 caps in Cruden and Faumania – now they are having to throw in kids e.g. McKenzie having to replace Sogapa and not even playing at 10 in Super rugby.

      Will be very interesting to see how the AB’s go in Europe – As it would not be shock if they dropped further games because without the above players (who are all WC and would be in any consideration for a World 15) – the AB’s drop back into the pack by a large degree.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:45am
        Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

        We already know that Australia doesn’t have the depth to compete if we get injuries to a couple of our key players.

        This has always been the case. Often we can put out one of the world’s best first choice 15, but our bench is often pretty average, and once we get some injuries our backup players are nowhere near the level of the players they are taking the place of.

        • Columnist

          October 23rd 2017 @ 10:10am
          Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          And this is about to be tested immediately Fionn, with Folau’s impending absence.

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2017 @ 11:20am
            PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            The wallabies went ok at the rwc with folau at 50% due to his ankle injury.

            No doubt they will mis their main strike weapon but depending on the make up of the team they could include Kerevi who is a great threat on attack, Hunt at 12 to organise the defence and thus helping Kerevi out at 13, and Beale to 15.

            I suspect though Beale will stay at 12 and Hunt at 15 so the major threat will be Koroebete as a strike weapon.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:26am
            Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            Geoff, the outside backs are actually where we have the most depth I think. Tom Banks, Karmichael Hunt, Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge all offer different things, but they’re different as opposed to ‘worse’ than Folau.

            • Columnist

              October 23rd 2017 @ 12:01pm
              Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              Yes, all quality players Fionn. Will be very interesting to see how it plays out on tour.

              Would love to see Banks get an opportunity at some stage. He’s noticeably stronger now, without having lost any pace.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:23pm
                cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                i think the best mix is Beale at 15 and Hunt at 12.

                that will mean u dont need to hide Beale on a wing and also put Kuridrani on the bench and play an attacking center like Kerevi at 13 , becoz Hunt can tackle as well as anyone out there.

                also it will give flexibility on the bench becoz Folau can cover 15 and wing.

                all auzzy need now is another proper 10. i just dont think the likes of Beale Hunt hodge are test class 10s.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:11pm
                Internal Fixation said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                Beale is still suspect under the high ball.

                Hunt at 15 to use those AFL skills for mine.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:27pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

                Cuw, I agree 100% with all of that.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:52am
        Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Yes, the WBs beat an AB side at less than full strength. But it was still a very good side capabable of beating every other side in the world.

        In any event, the WBs still looked to me like a side that is steadily improving – as Geoff notes, the constant pressure over 80mins, the second efforts, cooler heads with the game in the balance, etc – these are thIngs we did not see in June.

        Add in another impressive effort from Dempsey, good signs from the 2 new locks, and the apparent maturing of Hodge, personally I think there is plenty to be happy about for WB supporters.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        You do reallise the Wallabies weren’t at full strength either, don’t you?

        As for Foley – if we picked a different 10, we might have done better. And as good as Izzy is, Kurtely at 15 and Hunt at 12 might work better overall. It just gives you different strengths.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:48am
          cm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          Who would you pick at 10? Surely not Quade?

          • Columnist

            October 23rd 2017 @ 10:09am
            Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

            Good question cm. James, who is this “different 10”?

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am
              EnoughisEnough said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:38am
              rl said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

              That’s easy Geoff. Its Beale. His effort against SBW in Bled 1 has really shown to be an exception and not the norm. He shouldn’t be the one defending the 12 channel.

              I’ll disclose that I’m a Reds fan, but my Foley “hate” isn’t driven by a desire to see Quade reinstated. Quite simply, Beale is and has always been the better 10, but he’s been playing 12 for the Tahs to cover a hole there. The same hole doesn’t exist in the test squad.

              And I do admire Foley – he’s got ticker. But there’s also too many holes in his game to be our 1st choice 10 when I think there’s a better option available.

              Great write up by the way, very enjoyable read.

              • Columnist

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:10am
                Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                Cheers rl. That’s a good point about Foley and Beale both being Tahs. As long as that situation remains and Foley stays fit, it’s hard to see where Beale gets an opportunity to play 10.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:56am
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                Until a better goal kicker who deserves a spot is available foley will be 10.

                CLL has more chance of displacing Foley than Beale does.

                Otherwise it needs Hodge to improve his goal kicking and take that jobover.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 11:42pm
                OO said | October 24th 2017 @ 11:42pm | ! Report

                Beale 10, Hodge 11, Hunt 12, Kerevi 13, Koroibete 14, Folau 15?

                Hodge can do the goal kicking.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:35am
              Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

              Geoff – Quade, Lance, even Hunt would be better options.

              If we analysed Foley’s performances rather than just coming at it from the angle of ‘he’s not Quade at least’ then perhaps we all would have realised that for most of the past two years he has been one of the major problems in the Wallabies’ backline, not one of the positives. Aside from what some people allege, I have nothing against the guy, but I want the Wallabies to do as well as they can, and almost every other position we have trialled multiple players, Foley is the one constant, and we need to trial other options.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 12:02pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                On slightly inebriated viewing live, I thought Foley was ok, but looking at it later, more sober I was less impressed.

                One thing that stood out was a horrible piece of defense that lead to the AB’s last try.

                We had a 4 on 4 defensive situation with him on SBW. Foley shot out of the line to shut down SBW, fell off the tackle and then left a 4 vs 3 situation.

                It was completely unnecessary and lead to a try. With the numbers, and not too much space to work with, all Foley needed to do was stick on SBW and either shepherd him back infield to more support, or force him to pass to a 3 on 3 situation with less space outside of him.

                Instead Foley made a high risk play, which should only be done if you are out numbered, and it resulted in a try.

              • Columnist

                October 23rd 2017 @ 12:08pm
                Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

                Not going to bother arguing with you on this one Fionn because I know you’re set against Foley.

                One thing though – it’s pointless pointing to those guys. They’re either not in the squad or aren’t going to be played at 10 by Cheika.

                I like Hunt too, but there’s nothing to suggest he has the all-round skills that a Test 10 needs. Or can develop them at this late stage of his career.

                The Wallabies’ next 10 must come via the NRC/SR pathway. Until then, for all his weaknesses, it’s Foley first and daylight second.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:10pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

                Hunt can already kick out of hand well (legacy of AFL), he can pass long off of both sides (check out his left to right cut out pass in June) and he often served as a playmaker in the Reds and Broncos.

                It’s interesting how Teflonman is judged to a much lower standard than QC. Even last year when he was in abominable form Nick Bishop was the only expert writing articles pointing out the fact that Quade was by far the better choice.

                TWAS, it was the number of turned over balls that had me most horrified. I thought he defended pretty well.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:25am
            Charlie Turner said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            I’d like to see Jono Lance have a go. It’d be interesting to see Cooper behind a pack that was having a red hot crack too. Paia’aua in my opinion is a 12 and Hamish Stewart has potential is way too green. Mack Mason….nah.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:21am
          Bluesfan said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          OK apart from Pocock, what WC players e.g. players who would push for a spot in a World 15, were the Wallabies missing from Saturday?

          Foley – if you lose him to injury or to a European contract, you would be in serious trouble – who else could you pick? Quade – tried and failed? Beale – no longer a 10 – so depth is a real issue there, not helped that 2 out of your 5 First fives in Super rugby were Kiwi’s.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:30am
            EnoughisEnough said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Haha, the same “tried and failed Cooper” who outplayed Foley this year when he was given limited opportunities. Foley’s game on Saturday night was demonstrably worse than any performance Cooper has ever been vilified for.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:49am
              Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

              Ha ha.?

              Why ha ha?

              Coopers not even in the squad. Last laughs always going to be on you I’d say.


            • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:42am
              Bluesfan said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

              Cooper was a potentially great player who just has not converted that potential into quality long term form.

              This year, playing for the Reds – looked like at times he was playing with injury and realistically should have been sitting on the sidelines getting his body right.

              If he was smart, he should take take either the riches in Europe or better for him – sign up to play in Japan and learn to enjoy himself on the field again, and hopefully bring back some of that form he had in 2011 playing for the Reds.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:59am
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                Despite that the Reds attack was good when he played, and terrible without him.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am
        Johnny J-Dog said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Australia wasn’t at full strength either. We were missing Pocock (we still have no fetcher to contest rucks and Hannigan is a joke), Rodda (Simmons is hopeless) Uesele (Moore living on borrowed time), Tupou (Robertson is the new Hinge) anyone other than Phipps, anyone other than Foley, Hunt and Naivalu.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:45am
          Bluesfan said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Usele was available – but was not picked.
          Tupou – currently not available for Australia due to Residency rules.
          Rodda – well little bit of a difference between him and Retallick I think.

          Again so no WC players bar Pocock were missing from your team vs. 5 AB’s.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:26pm
            cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

            shud have said about Nic White , Ben Mowen , James O Connor , Julian Salvi , James Horwill ….. LOL

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:50pm
              FunBus said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

              As an aside , I’ve just watched Nic White trying his best to lose the European Cup match for Exeter at Montpelier. He was dreadful.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:07pm
                cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

                typical self – talking a lot more than playing.

                or maybe thinks he owes them …. monts i mean

                monts missing cruden , just like wasps miss cipriani.

                but the nandolo try has to be one for the record books.

                probably caused an earthquake when he came down 😛

          • October 25th 2017 @ 6:42am
            Carozza'sNose said | October 25th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

            Bluesfan…had nz not nicked the prize in Dunnyeden, your argument would be void. Great last play which was tried again on Sat workout success. Also Foley’s boot massively saved your bacon.
            Therefore those missing players are irrelevant imho. Similarly your hypothetical World 15 list is too given that without Foley’s boot, they’d all have lost, as well as those ABs on Sat.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am
        Fathom said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        You seemed to forget that your ABs lost to a bunch of second rate no hoppers.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Reverse Wheel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          None of whom would make the ABs apparently.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:36pm
        Mark said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

        We went into the game also without key players. Instead we had Moore, Hannigan, Phibbs and Simmons. Imagine the Wallabies full strength without the handicap.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:14pm
          Jeffrey said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

          While guys like Fionn and some of the other regulars on here are always consistent and constructive with their analysis, I really don’t understand the mentality of most Aussie fans.

          While you guys are losing, you paint your team as the biggest bunch of no hopers who would even struggle to beat a Zimbabwean 3rd XV, but one win against the ABs and suddenly you are the best team in the world again. Remember all the dire predictions before the Dunedin test?

          Is there a more fickle minded set of fans around? I really doubt it. Enjoy the win guys, but please some perspective is needed.

          • October 24th 2017 @ 8:22am
            Drongo said | October 24th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            No one is saying we are now the best team in the world. We just beat the best team in the world, that is what is relevant.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:50pm
        Noodles said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

        Excuse me. But I’m excited. The WBs have now had good results against the Saffers, a near miss in Dunedin against the ABs and a win against the ABs – on top of two good wins over the Argies. This is a HUGE improvement on where we have been.
        Yes, we have a competitive 15 and a few solid contestants at the bench. Notably some very solid options in the tight 5 and back 3. Work to go in finding more backrow options and strong contestants 9-12.
        Now we can look forward to the NH tour and hope to see some development and some new faces. But at last we have a squad to invest in and build on.
        You have to give Cheika and his group (a very diverse group of unlikely roommates) for the progress.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:53pm
          Internal Fixation said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

          Great call. Delicious noodles.

      • October 24th 2017 @ 2:21pm
        bluffboy said | October 24th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        Hey Blue, I largely agree with most of what you have said.
        I’m pretty sure no one would dispute the depth within New Zealand Rugby and how that depth keeps them at the very least competitive what ever team is fielded. I certainly agree the Wallabies probably wouldn’t have won if the AB’s were at full strength. But their sustained defensive patterns were outstanding and that alone would have made it a close encounter for sure. The issue for me as I have realised of late, is that I didn’t really care who was in or out, I expected them to win regardless. Where has the excitement and buildup of the unknown before a Test gone…..

    • Roar Guru

      October 23rd 2017 @ 8:03am
      Machooka said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      Morning G… and many thanks for this effort all things considered.

      I’m fond of saying… ‘Pressure brings it’s own rewards’ and, no doubt, the Wallaby were successful in doing so in BrisVegas. From my view it was ‘on’ from the get go, and they didn’t let up. The Wallaby played a full 80 mins. At last!

      In saying that, their timing of this was perfect, considering the almighty ABs appeared somewhat rudderless. When a team is missing some key positional players this does tend to happen. But it’s a dynamic that all teams face albeit challenge themselves in the need to rise to compensate for these important players missing. Regardless, the Black went down swinging. Well done.

      ‘…, the fickle Australian media yesterday restored the Wallabies to lead story on the ABC sports news (including Melbourne),..’ Yep, somewhat proceeded by some classic Countdown 🙂

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:30am
        Ailanthus said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        Hey Chook

        By dinnertime the rugby had slipped down a bit in the Melbourne coverage, but it was certainly more prominent than usual.

        It shows a couple of things

        – to regain a high media profile isn’t impossible
        – the importance of all elements coming together, ie improving grass roots engagement AND player and coaching development AND Wallabies success etc… for this type of coverage/profile for rugby to be maintained.

        I’ll leave you to your Countdown mate – I can only look at Daryl Braithwaite in spandex pants so many times, but won’t criticise you for getting off on it. We’re all different.

        • Columnist

          October 23rd 2017 @ 8:36am
          Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Sorry mate, I’m still so whacked out I can’t even sign in properly. Don’t mean to confuse anyone….

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:57am
            Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

            Mate it gets worse, a couple of weeks ago we had Mark Holden in the white suit!

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 9:09am
              Machooka said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report


              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:06am
                Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                Ofc, in the lapel, all smarm and hairspray…

              • Columnist

                October 23rd 2017 @ 10:13am
                Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

                “all smarm and hairspray”

                Very funny Dave.

                That said, saw him during the week on SBS Insight. Thought he came across as a bloke who has emerged from that unreal world and taken responsibility for making his own way in life – and come through it not too badly.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm
                Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

                Yep he also forged a successful career as a producer in LA, which is no mean feat.

                But as a Skyhooks and Accadacca kid I couldn’t give him or Darryl any credit ofc. 🙂

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:20am
      sheek said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Why is it such a surprise that the ABs are the same as anyone else when constant pressure is applied to them?

      They know the truth better than most: apply pressure to everyone else. That way you do’t have to feel uncomfortable yourself.

      The ABs dominate opponents through greater basic skills & better match awareness. But put under intense, continuous pressure, they are human like anyone else, they will make mistakes.

      They know this, so they spend as much time as possible applying the blowtorch to others.

      Of course, all this stuff about applying pressure is easier said than done.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:33am
        Ailanthus said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Hi Sheek

        To some fans who get accustomed to winning so often perhaps, but I don’t think it’s a surprise to the AB’s or opposition coaches.

        The answer of course is in your final statement – it is far easier said than done. I don’t think I can remember a Wallabies team sticking so many first-time tackles as they did on Sat, and that’s ultimately what won them the game.

      • October 24th 2017 @ 2:42pm
        bluffboy said | October 24th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

        Apparently the Lions and now the Wallabies have unearthed a new secrete formula that is revolutionary and has never been thought of. Defensive pressure, rumor has it that the more intense the pressure the better chance you have to break the other team down and win.
        Defence, its a bit out there, who would have thought. I hope no one else catches on………

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:41am
      Curl said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Thanks Geoff, some good insights. 2 things come to mind:

      1. I wonder if the ARU can now see the benefits of serious match/game practice before throwing the Wallabies into the lions den…or for this year, the AB’s den, last year it was a red hot England?

      2. I am also wondering it McMahon is regretting his hasty signing of his much lorded Japanese $1m per season contract. It seems to me that he has played his best rugby, by a long shot, after he signed his life away…what the heck was he and his manager thinking. He actually looks to be enjoying his rugby over the last 3-4 games, and has remained injury free.

      • Columnist

        October 23rd 2017 @ 9:04am
        Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Cheers Curl

        Your point 1 is a strong one. This weekend’s coming weekend’s circus would have far more value positioned further up the calendar. In fact it wouldn’t be a circus then, but a chance for the first choice Wallabies to have a decent run and for the fringe players to step forward.

        I think the key to McMahon is that he’s playing at full fitness, not that he’s somehow psychologically ‘free’. Plus, as the team improves as a unit, it becomes easier for good players to shine.

        Hard to know what his longer term intentions are but you’d have to think he wants to be part of the 2019 RWC don’t you?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:18am
          jutsie said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          when does his contract with the Japanese club end? will he be available for super rugby in 2019 or can the ARU make a “Mcmahons” Law just for next world cup?
          Even though it was still a short backrow on saturday the McMahon / Hooper / Dempsey combo had a better balance than the fardy / hooper /pocock one we had in 2015. McMahon and dempsey add the extra oomph in tight that none of the other three have.

          • Columnist

            October 23rd 2017 @ 10:18am
            Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen the details of his contract reported jutsie.
            Which kind of leaves a little bit of room for optimism.

            Would be very happy for anyone who knows to advise….

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am
              John R said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

              I’m pretty sure it was a 2 year deal, which would see him ineligible for the RWC.
              But there’s some rumours going around that he’s been sighted visiting Ballymore etc.

              So hope springs eternal the Reds snap him up!

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:15am
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

                I don’t see how that makes him ineligible for the RWC.
                He plays japan 2017/8 and 2018/9. He can still be signed for and play super rugby in 2019 , just misses a couple of games in Feb.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:23am
                jutsie said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

                yeah PeterK thats what I was hoping, its a contract that ends at the start of the 2019 season rather than at the end so he could potentially play Super rugby that season in the lead up to the WC.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:26am
                John R said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                True true, good point PK.

        • Roar Guru

          October 23rd 2017 @ 11:14am
          PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          A probables v possible type game would be of great value before the june series or at least before the rc.

          However there is the issue of burnout, a lot of tests as it is.

          The main reason this match was created was the dire financials of the ARU , so to make up for poor attendences at Wallaby games.

          At least Cheika may use this as a further selection trial.

          Will he objectively assess QC captaining the Baa Baa’s and how he plays though, or will he just be evaluating who he has picked in his side and anyone else has no chance of making it.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:29am
            Charlie Turner said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            Peter, That’s a rhetorical question I’m sure?

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 12:00pm
              PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

              There is a reason there is no question mark at the end of it, subtle intentional punctuation error.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:24pm
          Curl said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

          Thanks Geoff, agree with both your points.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:46am
        Charlie Turner said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        McMahon signed with Japan because he felt he wasn’t getting a fair go from Cheika with Hooper entrenched as captain at 7 and Pocock at 8 when available. Nothing has changed! I’m happy for him to the cash while it’s on the table. In my opinion he was the best of the Wallaby back rowers on Saturday. On a side note Sam Cane made 27 tackles Saturday, very impressive!

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:12pm
        Sgt Pepperoni said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

        He signed out of frustration with the aru over the whole rebels force purgatory debacle. Hard to blame anyone but the aru

        • Roar Guru

          October 24th 2017 @ 8:16am
          Train Without A Station said | October 24th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          It has nothing to do with that.

          McMahon has been looking to go to Japan since the start of the year.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am
      Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Another “nail on the head” piece thanks Geoff, in particular the observation that this time the WBs were able to absorb and counter each time the ABs looked to go up a gear. It was my first post-game SMS to a mate.

      Re the Baas game, I’m happy that fringe and returning players will get some miles into their legs, but agree there doesn’t seem much to justify calling them the Wallabies. Maybe call them the Merinos, since it’s v the Baa Baas?

      • Columnist

        October 23rd 2017 @ 10:22am
        Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Cheers Dave. Body language is important. It did look like the Wallabies were relishing the physicality. That hasn’t always been the case in recent years.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:10am
      Rugby Tragic said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Thanks Geoff. An extraordinary article given the circumstances… wishing you a speedy recovery.

      Fionn commented about about the quality of replacements … it also applies to the All Blacks.

      Depth, yes, the Kiwis have plenty in most positions, all good players in their own right, but the quality is not there …. not yet.

      Scott Barrett is no Brodie Retallick, Mackenzie no Ben Smith, Sopoaga no Beauden Barrett and Lualala and Hames are no Moody and Franks.

      Will this experience catapult the ‘replacement’s’ careers? Maybe but that is going to take time, they need more time at the highest level and the non availability of a number of ‘1st choice regulars’ is building depth by default.

      At the game, the first half was very disjointed with handling mistakes from both sides in the conditions resulting in many stoppages, but the scene was set with the speed of the defence from the Wallabies was impressive. This caused the misfiring of the AB backs, Sopoaga not adapting to the rush defence and unable to get the pill wide. The wings were starved of possession.

      For the Wallabies I think MacMahon will be a huge loss based on his performance on Saturday night (imo, should have been MOTM) .. loved the bullocking run in the second half where he brushed off several would be tacklers where he must of gained 20-30 metres, and who is this guy Tui?.

      For the All Blacks, Cane reportedly made 27 tackles, a great effort, marred by his 80th minute knock on. Many of the All Blacks ‘appeared’ to have average games but to focus on that would not be respectful to the effort the Aussie put in.

      The Wallabies, as a team played well … they certainly deserved their victory, it was their night and I was pleased to be part of it. The crowd of 45,000+ was impressive, given the results of the past two years and the inclement weather on Saturday. I guess the ‘good turnout’ was due to the fact that Brisbane have been starved of high ranking games.

      The ARU should play more big tests at Suncorp rather than being Sydney-centric; it should matter not that it does not have the capacity of Homebush as they align their ticket price to volume anyhow…

      • Columnist

        October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am
        Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Good point about the crowd RT. 45k to a supposed ‘dead rubber’ where it was raining all day, compares very favourably to the first up crowd in Sydney.

        Given that negative vibe around Australian rugby this season it reflects what you are saying about Brisbane but also, I think shows that fans will get behind the Wallabies if they think they are going to provide value. And that, based on recent performances, many people realised that there was genuine improvement beginning to happen.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 23rd 2017 @ 11:00am
          Dwards said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          I turned up to the game thinking that if it rained too much I’d just move up into all the empty seats in the higher stands. Nope – no room. 🙂
          The official figure might be 45K but it was so well distributed across the stands it really felt quite full and was one of the best atmospheres for a rugby match I can recall.
          In the end though, what made it so great was that it was a full 80 minute match where everyone turned up and turned up an turned up. At the game I really felt like the ABs had dominance for the first 30 minutes with the WBs more or less hanging on. I was expecting any moment for the flood gates to open, but in the end the Abs were not beaten because they lacked some stars, they were beaten because they lacked space from minute 1 to minute 81.
          I fully admit I was calling for Cheika’s removal after the Sydney test – but surely his approach regarding fitness is vindicated. He now has a team willing to play the full 80 and give it everything they have. And suddenly, a smaller back row, a winger still learning to defend (but can still find that line!) and another winger who “looks” to slow don’t matter so much. What I saw in Saturday night was a team that didn’t rely on any one star but on everyone putting their hand up and doing their job – and it was wonderful.
          I think your comparison with Richmond was spot on, but I don’t agree it was ugly – it was hard, constant and beautiful.
          (and probably the “fastest” game I watched in ages – that game just flew by)

          • Columnist

            October 23rd 2017 @ 11:14am
            Geoff Parkes said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            Sounds like you had a great night out Dwards. I can feel the atmosphere building for next year’s Ireland Test already!

            • Roar Rookie

              October 23rd 2017 @ 11:29am
              Dwards said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

              It was a cracker Geoff, and will hopefully attract more in – but as you know in Oz Rugby you win or you don’t exist. Hoping the EOYT can carry the momentum. Perhaps even into the Reds next year??
              Thanks for the article.

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