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.