The good, bad and ugly news for Wallabies fans: 5 things we learnt – Fox Sports


The good news is that the Wallabies are just three Tests away from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.

The bad news is that they appear a million miles off the pace heading into the knockout stages of the ninth Rugby World Cup.

Yet in many ways all that matters is that they’ve qualified.

The past counts for nothing now.

As George Gregan reminded a packed audience at the Wallabies’ farewell lunch, it all comes down to showing up for 80 minutes on Saturday in Oita.

“Losing quarterfinals aren’t great because you literally leave the next day, your tournament is over, so there’s a finality,” said the former Wallabies captain, who played in four World Cups and won in 1999.

“It’s not a pool game where you might dust yourself off.

“You’ve got to flick the switch and you’re three games away from becoming world champion and that’s the switch you’ve got to hit.”

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Rugby or swimming training?

Rugby or swimming training?

0:49

That needs to happen quick smart because if the Wallabies replicate their performance against Georgia they’ll be boarding the first flight out of Tokyo.

Twenty two.

That was the number of turnovers the Wallabies made on Friday.

Fifteen were handling errors.

Oh, but it was wet and it was windy, and what about the gallant Georgians?

Yes, the Georgians were heroic in making 224 tackles compared to Australia’s 47.

With 78 per cent of the ball, it was the Wallabies’ most dominant possession since the 2007 World Cup win over Fiji (79).

But the attack struggled for continuity and rhythm.

They regularly went one out, committed too many bodies to the breakdown and even with a third player guarding the ruck, their ball was often slow.

The early loss of Kurtley Beale with concussion hurt their potency but the Wallabies simply didn’t ask enough questions of the Georgian defence.

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Cheika: 'They'd better win'

Cheika: ‘They’d better win’

1:22

In addition to poor ball security, the Wallabies made just four offloads in each half and kicked only seven times all up.

In other words, there was very little deception in the play.

Michael Cheika’s pre-match interview raised eyebrows when he was asked if the inclement would force a tactical kicking game.

“I’m not sure if we’ve got one of those,” the coach quipped.

“We’ve got to be able to play footy in the wet as well — we’re not just going to start kicking the ball.

“It’s not in our nature.

“I don’t think our fans here and our fans at home want us to do that.

“We’ll just get the tender balance between what’s required in the game and what we see and how the game unfolds.”

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Wallabies' classy finish

Wallabies’ classy finish

0:39

But ball in hand at all costs isn’t working particularly well.

The 28th minute: Tolu Latu drops a Nic White pass that he thought was intended for Sekope Kepu.

The 48th minute: White grasses Isi Naisarani’s lineout misplaced tap.

“It’s hard to get rhythm with so many changes,” former Wallaby Rod Kafer said on Fox Sports.

“It’s the Wallabies’ 22nd 9 and 10 pairing in 50 Test matches.

“It’s difficult to build consistency and rhythm.

“To be fair, Nic White and Matty To’omua played 43 times with the Brumbies… so they know each other’s games really well.”

But many of their teammates don’t.

Here are three more examples of players not being on the same wavelength.

Will Genia and Matt To’omua have a mix up.
Will Genia and Matt To’omua have a mix up.Source:FOX SPORTS

In the 57th minute To’omua threw an inside ball to an unaware Will Genia who spilt it.

In the 66th Genia crabbed across the field, waiting for a runner to change the point of attack.

But James O’Connor is caught in too minds and the Gilbert goes to ground again.

It was a similar story two minutes later when O’Connor threw the ball into touch as Marika Koroibete cut inside.

The Wallabies attack has spluttered.
The Wallabies attack has spluttered.Source:FOX SPORTS

Cheika has rejected suggestions that the Wallabies’ error count is a result of constant chopping and changing.

But the proof is in the pudding.

STRONG FOUNDATIONS

If there was a positive to come out of the error-ridden Test it was the Wallabies’ set-piece.

No side can win the World Cup without a solid foundation at scrum and lineout and the Wallabies are in good shape there.

Up against one of the strongest scrums in the world — Georgia had forced a tournament high 11 penalties before the match — the Wallabies gave away just one.

On that occasion, loosehead prop Scott Sio pancaked after his feet were too far back at engagement.

But the Wallabies adjusted and shaded the Europeans with Sio gaining revenge later in the first half.

The Wallabies’ lineout has also come on in leaps and bounds this year.

Apart from one wobbly Latu throw, the Wallabies were dominant in that area with Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda regularly picking off the Georgian throw.

One area the Wallabies could improve is their efficiency from lineout ball.

Here is a lineout example.
Here is a lineout example.Source:FOX SPORTS

The first lineout is a prime example.

Naisarani wasn’t challenged in the air but he attempts to bat the ball back with one hand and the ball goes well over the top of White.

Rather than having an opportunity to unleash the backline, the Wallabies are caught well behind the gain line.

In the 15th minute, Naisarani takes the ball with only one hand, has a slight fumble and the rolling maul is delayed.

and as a result he takes longer to bring the ball down to start the rolling maul.

Again, in the 48th minute he misses White with his pass and the halfback drops the ball.

Against England, the Wallabies must be more clinical.

Marika magic to the rescue

Marika magic to the rescue

0:59

BACKROW HEADACHES

Once again, the Wallabies’ backrow shapes as one of the biggest selection calls for the quarterfinal.

Captain Michael Hooper will start after being rested against Georgia.

But David Pocock looked more at home wearing the No 7 jersey, where he was able to play closer to the ball.

He gained two breakdown penalty wins.

But in attack, Pocock wasn’t able to give the Wallabies the same impetus and penetration as Hooper.

Meanwhile, both Naisarani and Jack Dempsey failed to grab their opportunities.

Naisarani made four handling errors and was yellow carded for a clumsy high shot which ended up collecting the tackler’s jaw.

It was another example of the detail and accuracy just missing from Naisarani’s game.

But there is no doubt the No 8 is one of the Wallabies’ most destructive ball carriers and he regularly gets over the gain line — even if he occasionally runs too high.

Dempsey’s hands also let him down, spilling the ball in contact three times.

We did, however, see how effective his footwork can be with ball in hand.

England’s set-piece strength will come into consideration when the Wallabies pick their back-row.

But perhaps even more so Australia’s selectors will note the power game Eddie Jones’ side will attempt to play — and the dual opensides they’ve been operating with in Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

Star Wallaby concussed early

Star Wallaby concussed early

1:05

HALF THE PROBLEM

As noted earlier, the Wallabies’ halves have changed 22 times in their past 50 Tests.

On Friday, To’omua and White started together in a Test for the first time.

Did it work?

Well, neither man played poorly but nor did the Wallabies backline function with much fluency either.

White’s opening 25 minutes was reasonably strong, even though the Wallabies tended to shift the ball too laterally.

He probed the line at times and scored as a result in the 23rd minute.

To’omua, meanwhile, made a linebreak midway through the first half and took the ball to the line regularly.

But perhaps as a result of the change at fly-half, Samu Kerevi had his quietest Test in 2019, while Jordan Petaia didn’t see the ball enough on the right wing.

Both Genia and Christian Lealiifano made decent cameos off the bench, in particular the replacement halfback who scored a try and sought to lift the pace of the game.

Who starts against England?

It’s likely Lealiifano will be brought back at fly-half, which could see White wear the No 9 jersey again.

Tongan Thor on the burst.
Tongan Thor on the burst.Source:FOX SPORTS

TONGAN THOR TIME

For the second straight week, Taniela Tupou was one of the shining lights.

Allan Alaalatoa will start against England because of his all-round game and work ethic, but Tupou’s destructive abilities are becoming increasingly important.

His surging run in the 51st minute showed exactly what he’s capable of.

Collecting the ball out wide, Tupou made 22 metres to power the Wallabies over the gain line as he bumped away Georgia No 8 Beka Gorgadze and took three to bring him down.

His deft touch to send Genia in to score in the 79th minute was a beauty too.

Tupou’s power game will be vital against England and his ability to get over the gain line is imperative.

With the Wallabies not using much of a kicking game, they need fast ball and Tupou can give them that more than any other player.

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