Andrew Kellaway scored a hat-trick, produced a try-saver and continued his brilliant first campaign in the gold jersey. In fact he only made one small misstep in Australia’s defeat of Argentina and it made no difference at all.
After scoring his third try, Kellaway tossed the ball into the stands straight to an All Blacks fan. It may have brought back some brief, bitter memories of the intercept ridden Bledisloe Cup blowouts, but Kellaway was outstanding as Australia won a fourth straight TRC game for the first time ever.
Kellaway was left on the bench for the start of the season’s commitments against France but has emerged thanks partially to the broken arm suffered by Filipo Daugunu in that series.
The former schoolboys star has shown excellent finishing prowess, with eight tries in the three Tests against NZ and two each against South Africa and Argentina. Only Israel Folau, with 10 tries, has scored more in a debut season.
A hat-trick for Andrew Kellaway ????
— Stan Sport (@StanSportAU) October 2, 2021
“For the first 50 percent of the games this season I was starstruck,” said Kellaway. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable. But let’s be honest two of the three were pretty much falling over the line.”
Kellaway was as restrained as ever in the post-match interview, as he reflected on his stints in England with Northampton, as well as playing in New Zealand and Japan.
“You leave home and gain a bit of perspective,” he said. “I’m really happy at the moment and maybe it’s showing in how I’m playing. There are some pretty special people over there in Northampton that I owe a lot to.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is clearly excited about the gem he’s uncovered this season.
“He knows how to find the line, doesn’t he?” said Rennie. “He’s been fantastic, and very flexible – he finished the game at No.15 and we think he can play 13. He’s found his feet very quickly and has been excellent for us.”
Rennie acknowledged Kellaway “wasn’t in our plans about a month before we named the squad.
“But he came back to the Rebels and played really well and we didn’t have an option who could be a 14, 13, 15 and once he’s got his opportunity he’s impressed and is a consistent part of the starting lineup now.
“It’s a real credit to Kels, he’s been really impressive and keeps getting better.”
The experts praised Kellaway’s simplicity.
“One of the things about sport and particularly professional sport is they’re never going to ask you to do something you can’t do and if you can front up with a clear mindset on what your two or three skill sets are and play inside those as well as you can every time that’s exactly what Andrew Kellaway is doing,” said former Wallaby Justin Harrison on Stan Sport.
“It’s great finishing by the Wallabies number 11,” said Morgan Turinui. “What more can you say about a man who is now at home at Test level and does his job in every little bit of the game, but especially in scoring tries?”
Drew Mitchell added: “I spoke to Andrew and he thought his role in the side was just to do the simple things well, but what he’s doing really well is finishing.”
Aside from Kellaway’s continuing rise, there were some struggles for the Wallabies as the understrength Argentina fought to the finish.
“It wasn’t that long ago we were sitting in Perth unsure of where we were going to head and what was going to happen from there so it’s been fantastic,” Rennie said of the four wins from four.
“We made a pretty good shift in our game over the last month and we’ve kick a bit more. There was some real smart kicking tonight and you know we turned that sort of territory and pressure into points.”
He was a little disappointed as Argentina came back into the contest as Samu Kerevi was forced off with and ankle injury that could place him in jeopardy for the spring tour.
Kerevi was on crutches after the game, and although Rennie tried to make light of it, he faces a nervous wait over the man who has been one of Australia’s best in their resurgence.
“[There are] question marks around Samu,” Rennie said. “It used to be called a sprained ankle in my day. It’s now called syndesmosis, which is much worse evidently. We’re hoping it’s not too long.”
Syndesmosis generally take six to eight weeks to heal.
On the late fade, Rennie said: “We lacked a little bit accuracy and discipline and gave them some soft position and territory and we just didn’t defend well from there either.
“I thought our defence was excellent for the majority of the game but disappointing in that last stage. The positive thing is we’re grumpy after wins so you know we’ve certainly raised expectations – we still think we have a lot more in us.”