It’s not going to happen

45 – 8 after 50 minutes Wallabies v Romania. But a sub-standard effort against sub-standard opposition. Too many penalties conceded, far too many dropped balls in the backs and a continuing lack of fluency and combination. Matthew Burke’s having a great game at centre, but that’s one of the few bright spots. Larkham is one of the worst offenders with dropped ball. You can’t win a World Cup with a fly half who can’t catch. I’d be tempted to try Matt Giteau at 5/8 in desperation. But the most worrying aspect is the lack of urgency and commitment by the loose forwards. Smith and Waugh just haven’t been getting to the breakdown and securing the ball on far too many occasions. Australia simply can’t win the World Cup on this performance, even though they’ll almost certainly run the Romanians off their legs in the last 20 minutes or so. It’s The All Blacks or England for my money, with Australia a distant third at best.

Update – Final score 90 – 8, an all-time record score by the Wallabies. It just demonstrates the old maxim about damn lies and statistics, because nothing happened in the last 30 minutes to erase my opinion from the first 50. Australia simply ran over the top of a tiring, brave but third-rate opponent. Some of the second-string Wallabies did OK, notably Giteau (and Justin Harrison in the tight five), and even Lote Tuqiri showed promise as a flanker. Stirling Mortlock showed enough to suggest that Jones should really find a place for him in the starting line-up. Maybe on the wing in place of Wendell Sailor, who had another disappointing game. Sailor just doesn’t have the pace of a winger any more. The only reason he didn’t get caught out of position in defence is that Romania did virtually no attacking with their backs!

One of the TV commentators suggested the reason Australia was so flat in the first half was that they were tired and stale because they’re in heavy, intense training prior to beginning a taper so they begin reaching their peak for the quarter finals! It sounds like a forlorn hope, but you never know. It’s not over till the fat lady sings, but I’m pretty sure I could hear her clearing her throat in that first half against Romania.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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bargarz
2022 years ago

Ok so the backs had a fun day. But the sloppiness in clearing and protecting the ruck and maul was unsettling to sat the least. Imagining the same level of laziness against the All Blacks is scary scary stuff..

This is slightly OTT but the French didn’t look as imposing tonight against Japan. I suspect their fly is on commission from MBF – I’ve haven’t seen so many hospital passes in ages.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Gees you do some mood swings Ken. What happened to the die-hard optimist? You sure you didn’t get hit in the head in this morning’s bike crash? Glad you’re not my support base ol’ son.

I was very pleased with the Wallabies today. Good structured play in the main, and a better second round performance than the Blacks and the French for mine. OK, Larkham dropped a couple of balls … but this is no reason to lose the faith in our resident magician. Bernie’s always allowed a quota of errors per game, because he’s Big Chief Playmaker, and therefore he’s allowed to take risks that the others aren’t. Personally, overall, I again thought him the best on the field. Curiously, Rogers was the other one with a case of dropsy today. The two most talented footballers in the team are, perhaps, still trying to do a little too much. But both of them are just that damn close to being totally on fire … some poor team’s gonna pay very dearly before this thing is over.

The best sign was the way in which the forwards created such a solid platform for the backs to do their stuff (albeit, I also noticed, they were missing at a couple of breakdowns). Cannon set the platform for the first try, Baxter is getting better, Sharpe continues to improve, and Waugh and Smithy were full of tackling and running. And with such dominance up front, didn’t the backs do just heaps of their stuff … except for ‘del, who dropped sitters, couldn’t make a break, and generally looked like the completely spare proverbial at the wedding. Morts did OK (after dropping his first ball), but was no world-beater imo, and was well behind Burkie’s scorcher (and, boy, is it handy to have his boot at outside centre). Flats is not there yet, but I’m pleased to be able to concede that he’s still improving (making the first and setting up the second try) … and he might just make it by the end. His goal kicking is looking very promising, and this is going to be oh so damn Wilkenson-essential for the deep end.

In sum, while there is still clear room to grow, today was a class act in my book … and 90-8 versus Ireland’s 45-17 over the same team underlines how well the campaign is going I reckon. I think Coach Mudflaps should keep the core, but give Wits and Turinui a run in the second half next week … and, if there was any fairness, he’d drop ‘del for Tiquiri, with Morts perhaps getting another run toward the end.

And then we will have to step all the way up and serve some serious notice against Ireland. It now looks certain that the semis will be Australian vs New Zealand and England versus France. If we can get past the Blacks, I reckon we’re right in it. The Boks had the measure of Dad’s Army at half-time tonight … but didn’t have the preparation to go all the way. If our forwards continue to stamp their presence, and the outside backs (sans ‘del) keep on the present trajectory … England don’t look at all beyond the Wallabies to me.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

I agree England is eminently beatable, especially after their uninspiring forward-based arm wrestle with the Springboks last night. They don’t look to have Australia’s backline flair, let alone that of the All Blacks.

One thing that occurred to me after I wrote last night’s post was that maybe Eddie Jones has got the Wallabies trying to perfect the All Black-style game that I’ve talked about before: – committing a minimum number of players to secure the ball at the breakdown, with the vast majority of both forwards and backs strung out strategically across the field, so that a 5/8 magician like Carlos Spencer (Larkham???) can launch attacks anywhere at any time with incredible breadth (a la rugby league, Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis etc). If that’s what they’re doing, I have serious doubts about whether it’s feasibly to develop such a completely different style of play in the middle of the World Cup. It took the All Blacks a year or more to adapt and perfect the style. Nevertheless, I suppose it might not hurt to try, as long as they can revert instantly to their more accustomed style of more fulsome forward commitment at the breakdown if needs be.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken, as you know, not being a League watcher, I’m not really with your theory … but the Wallabies have shown a clear turn to playing their backs deep and getting it to the outside players in both games so far, which – given the forward platforms – is why they are obviously up a gear or two on their earlier form. Last night we even saw the long lost run-a-round a couple of times, and they generally have options both ways plus a deeper runner as the phases get going. NZ of course, but also France are also showing this pattern.

But not England. The interesting thing about the game last night was the way it showed that, apart from his awesome boot, Johnny Wilkinson can’t make the play unless his whole machine is working. OK, Carlos definitely has the biggest pass on him of all the pivots, but he’s only the pretender at this stage. If I had the choice, I’d still stick with Bernie out of all three. Neither of the other two can make his freaky half-breaks … I’d love to see the count after two games … he must’ve made 15-20 of them already. All three have tremendous vision, but the other two don’t quite have Bernie’s timing, which is why he also delivers so many money balls … I’d love to count those up too.

I have this sense that the Wallabies have fluked the optimum Cup path. Yesterday showed that the tough start against the Argies was a better option than beginning with one of the minnows, as this seems to have robbed some of the edge from the other teams, while we’re still coming on. With our tails up (a little), we now get a soft one when it doesn’t matter, followed by two tougheners against the Irish and then the Scots to straighten the remaining kinks (i.e handling and breakdown perfection) … which could just see us looking about right for the Blacks … who have to maintain their structure through two more soft games, before they get beaten up by the Boks. Hope springs.

PS I’m working on my essay on why democracy never works when everyone’s involved … have you been watching the dumbed down man-of-the-match polls … pure farce!

nardo
2022 years ago

when Romania scored, they played the Gypsy Kings over the PA… what’s up with that! social comment or selection desperation?

Couldn’t pick the other tunes on offer (some kooky french song for les bleuchs)… anyone on the case?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

*I have this sense that the Wallabies have fluked the optimum Cup path.*

Chris, WADR, that is nuts. If Australia had beaten the Randwick thirds 90-8, would you be in raptures? Because that’s how about the standard they faced.

The All Blacks will play England in the final, with the All Blacks winning by 15 points. NZ will hold England in forewards but the Poms will not be able to handle the All Blacks backs. Rokokoko (I don’t know how it’s spelt)will have a field day. Remember where you read it first.

wmb
wmb
2022 years ago

Bashing up on a team like Rumania is not good for the game.There is a report of the coach’s whinge on the ABC site, which I have not read. Perhaps when playing minnows in the pool games, the major countries can be handicapped by not allowing penalty goals, conversions or drop goals? OTOH I think that Italy and Canada can take a lot of encouragment from their games against the All Blacks. I quess regular games against appropriate level opposition seems to be the answer.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

The armchair supporter’s rugby rule is a simple one imo Dave … see a swallow, make sure it really is a swallow, any damn swallow, and then yell like hell that it’s summer … cos, sure as anything in this world, soon enough it’ll be bloody winter again. I’ve elaborated on my hysterical optimism over at Rugby (World Cup) Roundup.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Whoops. In my OT comment above, I meant of course Fabien Galthie, who is the French number 9.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Welcome to reality Ken,
The Wallabies were never going to win the ‘World cup’ because they do not possess the ability.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer,

I haven’t given up yet. But it’s certainly true that I’m no longer the irrepressible optimist. I don’t accept that the Wallabies squad lacks the talent. I just think Jones left it much too late to settle on a preferred 15, and even later to start working on perfecting the All Black/RL-style expansive game.