Wallabies must repeat winning dose in Dublin
November 11, 2013
Tevita Kuridrani crossed the whitewash aagain © Getty Images
KPIs: How we rate the Wallabies
How pleasing to hear Wallabies officials and players at last talking common sense following their breeze of a victory over Italy.
The 2013 season has been a long nightmare for the Wallabies, and they could easily have lost their head after a 30-point triumph and carried on about how they were "back on track", and how the ills of Twickenham, The Rugby Championship and the British & Irish Lions series were now behind them.
Thankfully they opted for the cautious approach, with coach Ewen McKenzie pushing the line that they will convince anyone they are on the road to recovery only when they develop the knack of playing well and winning week after week. Only then will they feel as if they are making progress.
The Wallabies' victory over Italy simply reminded all how dumb they were seven days earlier, when they faced a very ordinary England line-up and lost their way. If they had just kept their composure, and possessed a scrum that could actually keep its formation for more than 10 seconds, they would have won convincingly. The England defeat will remain a heavy shadow for the whole length of this northern tour, because it showed up several Australian Rugby Union officials who had lost touch with reality and ridiculously suggested Grand Slam glory before the team headed for Europe.
At least Turin brought some brightness.
Matt Toomua produced another strong performance outside Quade Cooper © Getty Images
The backline played with a bit more belief; numerous out-of-form forwards actually did something; and, as in Rosario against the Pumas, the team enjoyed a spate of tries. Nick Cummins showed what can happen if you remain committed, hover near the main attacking sources and push it to the limits. Matt Toomua again provided poise in midfield, Israel Folau was forever dangerous with ball-in-hand, Stephen Moore was once more Australia's best forward, and Quade Cooper kept his head in a match not helped by referee Glenn Jackson forgetting all about the offside law.
Space was badly cramped all game because Jackson allowed both teams to constantly rush at their opponents from a clearly offside position. No wonder there was endless frustration, endless mistakes, with the game going through infuriating stages of being little more than a "knockonathon".
The scrums were as exasperating to watch, prompting too many resets and silly gesticulations. Australia had a couple of bad ones, and a couple of good ones, overall tussling reasonably well against an Italian pack that got its act together only when the front-row replacements came on during the second half. At least this time around the Wallabies pack weren't humiliated.
But it is not time to start chest-beating.
Australia's defence remains a problem, and they cannot boast about the fact that Italy scored three times. The first try, scored when the Italian attack found only lumpy Wallabies forwards in front of them, showed the team's defensive alignment continues to be astray.
Will Genia remains strangely subdued, and again suffered because of one box kick too many, and the Wallabies lineout malfunctioned at times.
And remember, the Wallabies usually relax after an encouraging performance, and fall away. In 2013, the Wallabies have yet to experience back-to-back victories. Ireland eagerly await them.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Join the conversation with Greg on Twitter @GregGrowden
From Burgess to Boudjellal, Haskell to Honey Badgers and retirees to Retallick, here's the Quotes of 2014
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics
Salary caps, Saints, sinners and scrums - Monday Maul looks back at the key talking points from an eventful weekend