After the disappointment of the Swans I really needed the Wallabies to deliver last night and thankfully they did. Well, they delivered half a performance. It seems it takes 40 minutes for these guys to wake up and play like we know they can.
Against Argentina, half a performance was adequate to get the win but against New Zealand or any other more consistent team, we wouldn’t stand a chance. Our first half was dismal. We looked disorganised in defense and lacklustre in attack. At times both teams looked to be treating the ball like it was a hot potato. Argentina thrive on broken play that lets them throw the ball around and find gaps in our off guard defensive line and we gave them plenty to capitalise on.
In the second half we looked like a different team. We had upped the tempo and soon left them in the dust. We were hunting as a pack and it made a huge difference. Supportive and organised play makes front-foot ball much easier to obtain and sets your attack up for success. In the first half our work at the break down was miserable but it did pick up in the second half. There is still a lot of room for improvement in that area though if we are to compete with New Zealand.
McMahon had a cracking game and made a serious impact. While Beale’s kicking left a bit to be desired (namely metres) he performed well around the park, and his skills were on display when the tempo increased. Foley’s kicking made it a much more convincing win on the scoreboard and I wish he could deliver accuracy like that consistently. Consistency is really the key and I know it is what Cheika is demanding of them.
Uelese seems to be a star well and truly in the making. With both Uelese and Polata-Nau in fine form and making their presence felt, it seems unlikely Moore will return to the side, barring injury, which in Tatafu’s case is highly likely. I had few complaints with those on the field in the second half and I was very impressed by our scrummaging efforts. It’s the less glamorous side of rugby, but an important part. Sometimes you need to win ugly and the consistent pressure we put on at scrum time paid off, highlighting how far the Pumas have fallen in that area of the game.
Prior to kick off I was treated to the closing stages of the game between New Zealand and South Africa. What a terrible match for the South Africans. The All Blacks were in devastatingly excellent form, not slowing down at any point and never taking their foot off the pedal. They didn’t just want to win, they wanted to destroy their opposition and they did. What really impressed me was their defensive effort. To allow not one point to go against you is no mean feat. It means not one lapse of concentration can occur for the entire match and as much as I long to see them defeated, I can’t help but admire their effort.
We were treated pretty harshly for our first loss to them but I was proud of our performance in the second half. While we won’t be making a case for any trophies this season, we have shown guts and ability and I am not ashamed of our side or efforts at all. There is undeniably a lot of work to be done, but the same could be said of South Africa. I will be interested to see how the rest of the matches play out, as I think we are building something good. An 80 minute performance is just around the corner. I hope.