Twenty minutes of easy, untouchable football, sixty minutes of complete and utter garbage. That pretty much sums up Australia’s performance in their 26-16 win over England in Wigan this evening.
Australia looked like they would easily rack up the massive scoreline I expected them to in the first quarter of the match. As I predicted, the Australian pack dominated the English one with ease, the backs got room, and when you throw some back line plays at the English with a few dummy runners, they have no idea.
This saw Greg Inglis running through massive gaps untouched. To say it was easy in an understatement. Greg Inglis can score length of the field tries against great defense, it wasn’t until the second half that an English defender actually laid a finger on the great man.
Australia were slaughtering England at a point per minute. It was going to be a demolition job…..and then, they just stopped playing football.
I felt Australia deliberately slowed down the game from about the 25th minute onwards. Thinks like taking their time with kicks, feeding scrums slowly, I don’t understand that tactic at all and it would have been just what England wanted.
I put it down to being conservative. They had a great lead on the back of some brilliant football, now you want to grind England a bit and not start playing basketball with them.
That doesn’t seem to be the case though, and from about the 26th minute onwards, Australia were outscored by England 16-0.
Coming out for the second half, England looked noticeably more relaxed. They stopped playing bash and barge football through the forwards and actually put some variety into their attack up front. Running different angles, inside passed, offloads, it was a good turn around for a pack that has been thrashed in the first half.
I think Australia expected England to just roll over and die, but to England credit, they kept stuck in there and led beautifully by Chorleys favorite son, Sam Tomkins, they started to forge their way back.
The Australian forward pack pretty much disappeared in the second half. Gallen did his thing and Hindmarsh was very good, but the rest of them you could be forgiven for thinking they had left the field. Bloody terrible!
Sam Burges started to work harder and the funny thing is, Englands fightback only came on the back of a few players really standing up and getting things going.
The were never in with a shot of actually winning the game, but the scoreline doesn’t lie, England made all that ground back up, and it doesn’t matter what the score was after 20 minutes, Australia fell over the line with a wet sail.
Changes That Need To Be Made
Both sides need to make changes after this game.
For Australia I think they need to take some lessons from New South Wales in the State Of Origin series earlier this year. When in doubt, just pick your biggest pack possible!
Its no use going for fancy little tactical selections if the forwards are going to disappear after 20 minutes. I’d get Trent Waterhouse and Ryan Hoffman into the second row and I’d drop Watmough and Gallen to the bench. I’d give Shillington another from the bench and I’d be tempted to go with a 4th forward in Sam Thaiday.
That would leave Australia vulnerable should injuries strike, but I think with the likes of Smith, Slater, Hayne, Inglis and Thurston in the backs, you can pretty much cover any injury problems you might have while playing someone like Hoffman or Watmough out wide in the centers to cover the shift in the lineup.
I think the experiment with Robbie Farah was a failure. He was onto the field a full 40 minutes earlier than I expected him to be. It coincided with Australia shutting up shop, you have to wonder if it just took a bit of the wind out of the sails.
he came on with Lewis, who was poor, and another who was poor early on was Brett White. He finally learned to hold onto that white egg shaped thing later into the second half.
For England, I think there was a lot to learn in this game.
Danny McGuire has done his dash for mine, he was a liability for the English out there, he caused so many problems in their attack and this running sideways and dummying crap just doesn’t cut it at Test level. I’ve marked his papers, he’s had more than enough chances.
On a positive side, I liked the look of Kyle Eastmond when he moved in field later in the match. Having him mark up against Greg Inglis was bloody ridiculous and almost cost England, but when he moved in field he looked comfortable.
Give me Tomkins and Eastmond in the halves for England.
The thing I liked about Tomkins was actually when England were getting smashed, he still made an impact. He was not bad in defense, but in attack he actually tried a few things. Finally an unpredictable English halfback, they exist!
I think Peacock has run his race too, he was non existent in this game. Considering the fact that England can start Burgess, I just don’t have a place for him in their best lineup. I even found Westwood back to him trying best in this game had much more of an impact.
Out wide, Englands outside backs are what they are. There are no replacements you can call in, all you can really do is give these youngsters confidence that they won’t be dropped at the first sign of trouble.
So much to be taken from this game by both teams. It will be very interesting to see the adjustments that are made.
I really hope England go for Tomkins and Eastmond in the halves, I think that is their future.
Probably the worst refereeing performance I have ever seen in my life, and it hurt both side and the game itself.
Inconsistent calls, blatantly wrong calls, and that send off of Jonathan Thurston late in the game was completely ridiculous!
The Poms tend to think we don’t like their referee’s because they are English and nothing else. The fact is, they are simply not up to standard. Its not just the poor ten meters and making bad decisions, its the completely erratic nature of their performances.
If they were consistently rubbish, you could at least play to their interpretation of the rules. But both Australia and England were playing in a game where in one tackle, you could hold a player down for as long as you liked, and in the next tackle you were penalized for grabbing a jersey while simply completing a tackle.
Once again, I actually think that had there been a decent referee controlling this game, I think England ends up even closer to Australia, and with a few minutes left and within say a try of winning the game, who knows what happens?
England now go into their game next week against New Zealand full of confidence. I think it’s going to be a whole different ballgame though!
New Zealand are the best team in this competition and anyone that backed them to win the tournament would be pretty happy right now.
Going on their recent record, New Zealand will not let up against England, and the problem England will face is sweeping back line players off that forward momentum that even opened up Australia last week, with Benji Marshall creating havoc throughout the entire match.
In other words, I think we could a similar performance to Australia’s first 20 minutes in this game, but without the non existant final 60 minutes.
As for Australia, the results do not lie. As I have said to the Poms, you live and die by what you do on the field.
In 3 of their last 4 outings going back to the World Cup Final, Australia has built game winning leads only to see that lead bulldozed away by an opponent running all over them in the final 20 minutes of the match.
They lost the World Cup Final, only managed a lucky draw last week against New Zealand and were embarrassed by giving a lesser quality opponent a sniff of winning the game this week.
The days of Australia playing for 20 minutes and then posting it in against a destroyed, disheartened opponent and long gone. They ended in 2005.
The lessons have not sunk in though. The mentality that we are still the unbeatable world champions needs to be changed.
Right now, New Zealand is better, forget this crap about trying to get the number one place back, New Zealand will hold that until such time as we win the World Cup back from them.
Thats not going to happen though unless we start playing a full 80 minutes of a test match.
If you think about it, how many true 80 minute performances have we seen from Australia in recent years? Even in the thrashing, such against England in the last World Cup, you can find good 20 minute gaps where the Kangaroo’s just clocked off.
Turning that around is so much harder than fixing a technical issue in your structure, sorting out a defensive breakdown or working on your attack. Thats a mental issue, and thats something that is ingrained into the fabric of a side.
I said after last years World Cup Final, the Australian camps thinking needs to change, what we are doing is not good enough, we need to life our game and chase someone else now.
It seems to me like those lessons have not been taken on board just yet.
Sure it was a win, but there are biggest fish to fry than England.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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