Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Eye Spy - Wallabies' French Failure


Here's our latest intelligence dossier compiled by our secret agent after the Wallabies' defeat in Paris last Saturday ahead of their big showdown in Dublin.

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TARGET - Michael Cheika's Wallabies

WHO, WHEN, WHERE - They lost at the Stade de France to France last weekend on their End of Year Tour.

OFFENCE -  Always able to snipe when the French made mistakes but found it tough going when it came to creating scoring opportunities.  60+% in both possession & territory but still flattered by 3pt defeat IMO. Still, forcing the French into making 167 tackles helped tire the home side out towards the end which almost pinched this scrappy test for the Wallabies.

DEFENCE - Teddy Thomas try was brilliant, few defences would have handled him but still I think Wallabies' overall D was a tad too slow to set and the French exploited this.

SCRUMS - Neither team lost a feed against the head, set piece was more or less solid.

LINEOUTS - Lost a couple on own throw but their biggest worry will be their handling of a maul in their own 22.  Very lucky not to concede try at the start of 2nd half.  Irish lineout could have more success.

BREAKDOWN - Recycled well enough throughout at rucks but overall shipped 17 turnovers mostly through losing the ball in contact.

DISCIPLINE - both teams got frustrated and hot-headed a bit too easily - perhaps referee Owens should have gone to his cards earlier to snuff it out.  Despite easily winning the territory stats though, the pens the Wallabies shipped were too often in kicking range and this cost them.

INDIVIDUALS  - 
Folau - Always a threat but despite some inaccurate French tactical kicking couldn't capitalise

Ashley-Cooper - Wallaby man-of-the-match for me though he would have been of much better use in the centre.

Slipper - Helped keep front row steady and led Aus tackling stats with 14

Hooper - Inspirational leadership especially in the Wallabies' strongest area, namely kick chasing

Foley - Steady out half display and kicked all his goals

Phipps - tagged with 4 missed tackles, not good enough

Cooper - Provided the offensive quality needed to get them over the line towards the end and made the game close.  Cheika could be tempted to start him in Dublin

VERDICT - The Wallabies will improve under Michael Cheika, but for now they seem to take too long to grow into a game, and if they continue to show this next Saturday then Joe Schmidt's men will have the visitors right where they want them.  Ireland will have to keep their error count to an absolute minimum however because Australia have plenty of threats who can capitalise.

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NEXT WEEK - It's back to Pro12 action and we look at the table-topping Ospreys who go to Belfast this weekend ahead of visiting the RDS the following week.

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