Australia has looked very unconvincing despite an easy win over an England side that is just totally out of their depth, winning by a scoreline of 34-14.
The refereeing and touch judging was terrible in this match, but for all the whinging you’re likely to hear, it didn’t effect the result.
Australia looked very impressive early on and did everything right, getting through their sets, controlling possession and field position, they really should have put England to the sword.
However, as we have come to expect over the last few years, Australia seemed to switch off at times and get very lazy. This resulted in England crossing under the sticks from a cutout pass from dummy half. It was a good try by England, but it was so lazy by Australia, the effort was there, but the attention to detail and the defense wide of the ruck was not.
England gota big break after 15 minutes when they got a penalty from basically in front. With the scores tied at 6-all, unbelieved England went for a penalty kick!
With Australia on their own line and having to finally get through a bit of defensive work, the chance to apply more pressure and go for the try went begging. That two points was never going to decide the test match, and while they came away with a 8-6 lead, it was the mentality of the decision you had to not like.
From that point on, England left the contest.
Sam Burgess was replaced soon after. I had said it was a mistake playing him at prop for the reason that, he’d get asked to do grunt work and therefore not be on the field as long as possible. His loss in the pack was big for England.
Australia started to open the game up, showing the complete lack of ability to read a decent attack by the English backs.
Billy Slater was on fire in this one, and I have had more than a few messages from English fans saying how sick they are of seeing him ruin their lives. With Cronk, Smith, Slater and Lockyer all working Englands backs over, the scoreline blew out to 26-8 at half time and the contest was over.
Having been dominated on the scoreboard, lacking possession and and field position, England should have been slaughtered in the second half. Despite the rain which was bucketing down, Australia should have been looking at the record books, England were gone.
There would not be a flood of points in the second half though. While England did nothing special, losing the second half 8-6, Australia were lazy, paying no attention to detail and showing some really worrying signs.
Its all well and good to let things go line a missed timed play and a dropped pass in your first game against Papua New Guinea, but in recent years these mistakes have become acceptable in more important games like this one.
These miss-timed plays and mistakes didn’t cost Australia, but that’s not the point. They should have throttled a completely over matched England side, and they didn’t. They allowed England to get on a bit of a roll with the ball at times, and they shouldn’t have.
It was lazy and complacent.
For England, there isn’t much to say. They are just not good enough. They produce players that go their entire careers thinking they have reached the top, but then they play against sides like Australia or New Zealand, and they get beaten by skills, abilities and tactics they simply have never seen before.
The English backs gets shown up so easily for not being able to read the attacking play and make the right decisions in defense. The forwards do their best by competing physically, but they don’t have the endurance and against smart ruck play they just get found out so easily.
One thing I watched in this game was Sam Tomkins, who had a lot to say in the lead-up to the game, including that there was no difference between the NRL and Super League.
Tomkins wanted to play fullback, and he got his wish, the idea being that the extra room he would get in attack would allow him to unleash his incredible running games and tear Australia apart.
He was inept.
He was completely out of his depth against a quality opposition. When he wasn’t out of position in defense, he was making panicked decisions. He was a complete non factor in this game. He needs to go back to his little town in Northern England and have a good think about how good he really is.
I was pretty pleased by how James Roby played, once again. He has been Englands best performer for a few years now. Westwood also played his heart out, he grows another leg when he pulls on a test jersey.
As for the rest of the English side, there isn’t much to say. Same old England.
For Australia, I’m not all that impressed.
I though Gallen played his guts out, Thaiday was great and Luke Lewis was about Australia’s best player for the time he was on the field.
Billy Slater was unbelievable, again, while Cronk tried a few things but you can see, his and Cameron Smiths timing is just a bit off.
Those three really needs to shine if Australia is going to win the Four Nations. Lockyer can stand back and guide this team to victory, but if those three aren’t clicking, Australia is in trouble.
What worries me is that, Australia look vulnerable around the ruck as the game draws on, and I think New Zealand are just the perfect side to take advantage of that.
With Luke, Marshall, Fien and Hohaia, you have four players who are just so good at taking advantage of lazy defense around the middle of the field. They have a big, mobile forward pack, and Australia really does not handle it at all when you can get your forwards offloading the ball and get a bit of second phase play.
The ball doesn’t need to go through hands either. An offload, head back through the tackle, and get a quick play the ball, you have Australia in trouble.
Its going to be interesting to see how Australia and New Zealand play next week. Do they make changes? Will they show their hand?
It will be a good two weeks of footy what ever the case.
As for England, its a plane back home after next weekend and another year of hot air and bullshit.
They just are nowhere near good enough.
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