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Wallabies beat themselves on the Gold Coast

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15th September, 2018
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It was the 71st minute when the television camera caught coach Michael Cheika lifting his hands to cover his face as yet another golden chance for the Wallabies to score was butchered by dumb rugby.

He was hurting big time at 20-19 in the Pumas’ favour – and with very good reason.

Nine minutes later the pain was far worse.

The score was 23-19 in favour of the Pumas right on full time when Israel Folau, of all people, cut back inside only to be heavily tackled by giant Puma lock Tomas Lavanini.

Folau coughed up possession just short of the try-line with Bernard Foley unmarked outside him.

Foley would have strolled over for the victory.

That was so unlike Folau, one of the very best team-men – he is always looking for support when that player is in a better position.

Last night he played dumb rugby, and I never thought I would ever say that.

If Folau was in the identical position 100 times, he would have passed to Foley for the win 99 times.

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But that wasn’t an isolated incident as the Wallabies bombed at least five tries through sheer stupidity.

Yet they put together three magnificent tries to the Pumas’ two, and both of Argentina’s came from Wallaby mistakes.

The first Wallaby try by Will Genia went through seven Wallaby hands towards Folau’s wing, with the half-back finishing the move on the inside.

It was brilliant and had the paltry crowd of 16,019 on their feet.

The second was Folau’s personal brilliance beating five defenders on the left wing despite being the right winger.

And the third was scored by Dane Haylett-Petty ending a sweeping Wallaby backline move that was positive from the moment the ball left Genia’s hands.

Which begs the question: how can the Wallabies be so brilliant, and within minutes be so bloody dreadful?

It’s all about basics.

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When the Wallabies play brilliantly they get the basics right – pass, catch, support, tackle, and retain possession.

It’s when they turn over possession 20 times in all-out attack and miss 23 tackles that they lose.

Last night’s loss, the first to Argentina on Australian soil in 35 years, was simply because the Wallabies ignored basics.

In their previous two Rugby Championship games, the Boks ignored basics and were beaten by both the Pumas and the Wallabies.

Last night the Boks went back to basics at Wellington to create one almighty boil-over by beating the All Blacks 36-34.

And they were the far better team on the night, thoroughly deserving their success.

The Wallabies lost because they deserved it, but you can bet your house on it, Cheika will be the one pilloried, not the players.

That’s totally unfair, but criticism of the Wallabies is totally fair.

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Just about every Wallaby did something that was costly, so it became infectious.

Yet the scrum was good pitted against one of the best packs in world rugby, and the Wallabies only lost two lineouts, but both at critical stages with the men-in-gold sniffing the white line.

One thing for sure, the loss had nothing to do with Israel Folau on the wing, Dane Haylett-Petty at fullback, Kurtley Beale at fly-half and Matt Toomua at inside centre – all out of position.

But Michael Cheika has two more Rugby Championship games against the Boks and Pumas, both away, to complete the tournament.

In his current form, it’s anyone’s guess which way he’ll go at the selection table.