Five things we learned from Patersons Stadium
September 14, 2013
Perth served up horrendous conditions © Getty Images
The Wallabies claimed their first victory of The Rugby Championship. Just. How ironic then that they got off the mark with a performance more reminiscent of Robbie Deans' sides than of Ewen Mckenzie's "revolution". ESPNscrum looks at five key aspects of the Test against Argentina in Perth.
Israel Folau really is a star
Izzy did not do enough to justify the call from fans simply to give the ball to the fullback, who will do everything else. But he certainly did not face an easy task when he was given the ball hard on attack in the 27th minute of this contest. He powered through four tackles to score the decisive score of the game - decisive in as much that it game the Wallabies to breathing space they would need later in full - and it is notable that he has scored four of the Wallabies' eight tries in their seven Tests this season. He is the stardust the Wallabies need if they are to sparkle in Australia's congested football landscape.
Winning rugby is exciting rugby
The Wallabies were never going to try to run the ball from their own goal line in such horrible conditions in Perth. Do you think the fans care? No. Didn't think so. The fans are just glad to see their team win. Of course they would rather their team wins with style and panache. But winning ugly beats losing glamorously, and anyone who disagrees simply doesn't understand sport at the top level. Sure the Wallabies have plenty on which to improve, but they're off the foot of the ladder. And right now, that's all that matters. Bring on their matches in South Africa and Argentina.
Argentina need weapons
The Pumas had more than enough possession and territory to win in Perth - they dominated the stats in the second half - but they rarely looked likely to breach the Australian defence. They did, of course, score through Juan Manuel Leguizamon, but they must develop a threat outside their pack if they are to threaten more definitively their Rugby Championship rivals. At the minute, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa simply have to defend stoutly in close and against the threat of runs through the fly-half channel as they know Argentina either don't have strike power further out - or don't have the belief to use whatever strike they do have. The Pumas have a wonderful pack who secure enough ball to threaten quality opponents; the team just doesn't seem to know what to do with the pill.
Ben Mowen might just be the captain the Wallabies need
Ben Mowen lifted silverware in his first start as Wallabies captain © Getty Images
Ben Mowen is the quiet man done good for the Brumbies and now the Wallabies; you watched him in Perth and wondered whether his predecessors in the armband would have had the same impact as captain. James Horwill and Will Genia seem to inspire by deeds whereas Mowen seems to do the job as a leader. He doesn't make the big glamour plays - few Wallabies apart from Folau have done so this season - but he makes plays in tight that matter. And you felt watching the match that his team-mates do everything he asks. He's had a certain gravitas whenever he's featured in Wallabies press conferences, and it seems unbelievable that he's played only seven Tests. He's an impressive leader, and Ewen McKenzie may yet have a decision to make.
Nic White …
Will Genia remains a fine player, but he's not been the "world's best player" since the first Test against the British & Irish Lions - if not since before that match. He remains the only Wallabies player who would be considered for a starting berth in the World XV, but right now he might not be considered for a starting berth in the Wallabies XV. We'll never know what he would have done in Perth, but the fact is that Nic White did do it in Perth. White was handed a starting opportunity, and, unlike more than a few Wallabies players this season, he took it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and White is in possession of the Wallabies jumper. McKenzie has another decision to make. The good news is that he's shown willingness to make such decisions. For the time being, Canberra rugby journos will tweet #JusticeForNic.
Nic White made an impact on his first start in the gold jumper © Getty Images
Australia finally get off the mark in The Rugby Championship (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton