Lucky Wallabies get out of jail
20 July, 2015, 12:00 am
BRISBANE – For all the excitement and fist pumping after their last-gasp get out of jail win over South Africa, the Wallabies must treat their first outing in a World Cup year like a loss.
Saturday night’s 24-20 escape act won back the Mandela Trophy and also meant Michael Cheika tasted victory with his maiden Test in charge on home soil.
But Australia were utterly unconvincing and need to be much, much better to make 2015 a memorable season.
They can thank their lucky stars television match official Ben Skeen controversially awarded Tevita Kuridrani a contentious try in the last play of the game.
The win will take the pressure off as they head to Argentina before back-to-back Bledisloe Tests.
However, the Wallabies must not forget the areas where they were exposed and learn their lessons to ensure they can get out of the “pool of death” at the World Cup, kicking off in September.
The Wallabies were completely outmuscled and outplayed for the first 50 minutes of the Test and the game only turned when the Springboks rotated their front-row amid a string of changes.
Michael Cheika’s plan was to play with width to stretch the Boks’ defence and tire their big forwards.
But Australia were unable to gain parity at the collisions in order to recycle the ball quickly at the breakdown and also have enough numbers there to prevent the likes of Francois Louw, Bismarck Du Plessis and Schalk Burger turning it over.
Every turnover was a frustrating dent to the home side’s confidence.
On the flip side, highly-physical South Africa’s direct game consistently had them powering over the advantage line.
More worrying from a World Cup perspective was up front, though, as Australia’s traditional Achilles heel – the scrum – was again exposed.
England coach Stuart Lancaster would have been salivating at the sight of the Wallabies’ pack being regularly shunted back by the Boks forwards.
Australia’s key fixture is their third pool game on October 3 against the tournament hosts at Twickenham where England have regularly demolished their wonky scrum.
It’s well on the cards again.
Cheika will also take plenty of notes out of his backline’s inability to fire.
Playmaker Quade Cooper would have been disappointed with his game and Bernard Foley remains the favourite to take hold of No.10.
Cooper flick passing in his own quarter almost resulted in a debilitating sucker-punch try on halftime and highlighted the selection gamble he can be.
Comeback kid Matt Giteau had more better moments than Cooper, including a scything second half break, until failing to tie the scores with his 40m penalty attempt near at the death.