Ireland very good. But the Wallabies not half bad, either…

Matt Toomua was one of the Wallabies' best against Ireland, in Dublin. Image via Wallabies Facebook

Matt Toomua was one of the Wallabies’ best against Ireland, in Dublin. Image via Wallabies Facebook

The Roar: Well, it was another three-point loss, but whereas the close margin in Paris rather flattered the Wallabies last weekend, the 26-23 scoreline in Dublin was a fair reflection, both of how close the Wallabies ran with the Six Nations Champions, but also how Ireland was always just that little bit better.

And fair play to the home side, too. I haven’t seen enough of the November Tests to be able to say with any certainty that this was the best match of all of them so far, but it was certainly the best of the Tests I have seen.

All in all, while the loss was a bummer, I was quite impressed with the way the Wallabies not just competed with the best team in the northern hemisphere, but genuinely pushed them on plenty of occasions…

ABC Grandstand: Irish eyes smiling after Dublin win

Winger Simon Zebo scores Ireland’s first try of the match against Australia in Dublin. Image: ABC Grandstand

ABC Grandstand Digital: With special – and very happy – guest, Melbourne-based Irish-origin sports journalist Catherine Murphy on Grandstand Breakfast, Joe Sullivan and I ran the rule over the Wallabies narrow 26-23 loss to Ireland at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, earlier this morning.

The Wallabies found themselves down 17-0 inside the first 20 minutes, but fought back well with two quick tries of their own, to head into the sheds at halftime at 20-all.

The second half became a grind, and a grind that was always going to suit the current Six Nations champions. And a 6-3 second half was a fair reflection of both the half and the game overall.

An enjoyable chat, regardless of the result, and there’s plenty to like for supporters of both sides coming out of the match..

 

Four starting XV changes for Dublin. But everyone else named on the bench…

Michael Cheika has named the biggest bench in the history of rugby, for the Test against Ireland. Image: ABC Grandstand

Michael Cheika has named the biggest bench in the history of rugby, for the Test against Ireland. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika hasn’t quite gone as far as I thought – or as far as I hoped, on Tuesday – but I do like that he’s gone some way to shaking the side up ahead of their Test against Ireland in Dublin, in the early hours of Sunday morning, AEDT.

Cheika has made just the four changes to the XV that ran out against France in Paris.

Lock Sam Carter, young flanker/lock Luke Jones, and Matt Toomua have won recalls, while Brumbies flyer Henry Speight will make his long-awaited Wallabies debut on the left wing.

Of the replacements, well, it really is ‘everyone gets a game’ time, with eleven players named on an oversized bench suddenly in need of reinforcement. Three players will be trimmed from the extended bench.

Or will they?

Perhaps this is a cunning plan to negate the second-half scrummaging issues? Finishing the game with a four-man front row and three locks would certainly eradicate most of the issues that have plagued the Wallabies late-game scrum in recent weeks. It may just be crazy enough to work…

Spring Tour: Three lessons en route from Paris to Dublin

"But despite the early success, the Wallabies only attempted two other driving mauls for the match. And the Wallabies won 13 lineouts in Paris, too; it’s not like they didn’t have more than just three opportunities."

“But despite the early success, the Wallabies only attempted two other driving mauls for the match. And the Wallabies won 13 lineouts in Paris, too; it’s not like they didn’t have more than just three opportunities.”

ESPNscrum.com: As tempting as it might have been to take last week’s lessons and substitute ‘France’ for ‘Wales’ – because we all know they’d still apply – the Wallabies do genuinely have new issues to deal with before they take on Six Nations Champions, Ireland, this weekend.

Worryingly, and while the starting scrum held up quite well against France in Paris, many of the issues I outlined last week remained, particularly once all the bench forwards came into the game. From a Wallabies perspective, it was fortunate that France weren’t able to take advantage of this. And while it would be very easy to drop into yet another analysis about the Wallabies scrum, there are other areas to look at this week.

And so here are this week’s lessons, as the Wallabies lob back in the city that brought them undone off the field last season, the Irish capital of Dublin, namely that i). without gain line metres, flat passing is just ball shovelling; ii). trust Cheika knows where he wants the team to go, and iii). forwards need their thinking caps on…