“And though I don’t mean those words literally, let’s not rule anything out just yet.” Image via Twitter
The Roar: So the Wallabies’ Spring Tour ended with another loss, consigning them to the worst end-of-season record since Eddie Jones was relieved of his services at the end of 2005.
Michael Cheika is in no danger of suffering the same fate, but he certainly has some work ahead of him. But how does he turn this team around, 10 months and four Tests prior to the start of the Rugby World Cup?
Well, this is where I come back to the headline. And though I don’t mean those words literally, let’s not rule anything out just yet. ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves’ perhaps.
What I mean by this is that the quickest and easiest way for Cheika to recognise what areas he needs to address is to build a gameplan to beat his current Wallabies. If he works out how he would beat this current team, and where the weaknesses lie, the resolution of those areas has already commenced.
England No.8 Ben Morgan scores one of his two tries against the Wallabies, in their win this morning in London. Image: ABC Grandstand
ABC Grandstand Digital: Andrew Mayes, Catherine Murphy and myself run the rule over the Wallabies’ performance at Twickenham in London this morning, where they completed their Spring Tour with a 26-17 loss to England.
“Again, Folau was stationed deep at the back, at least near his only 22m again in this passage and out of shot in the image above. If we note that the grass is mown in different directions at five metre intervals, we can quickly work out that Folau is again at least 15 metres away from where this ball came down.”
ESPNscrum.com: The Wallabies lost a second Spring Tour Test, 26-23 to Ireland in Dublin, but won plenty of praise for the way they played in what was certainly their best of the three Tests to date in November.
Up against the reigning Six Nations Champions, and maybe even the best defence they’ve faced on tour, the Wallabies looked a whole lot more threatening as the short passes and offloads started to stick.
The set piece also saw improvements, with the lineout very good and even stealing a bit of ball from Ireland throw-ins. The scrum held its’ ground well for the first hour, but again degraded as the replacements came on late in the game. Backrow engagement height – a bugbear of this column in recent weeks – looked much better, too.
But for all the improvement, there were still a few things to highlight, and so for the final Scrum column of the year, here are this week’s lessons, as the Wallabies arrive in London for their final match of 2014.
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…