Wellington Regional Stadium, WELLINGTON
WELLINGTON, 23 Sept. - Australia captain Will Genia hailed his team's tactical nous on a record-breaking night against USA on Friday.
Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the fastest Rugby World Cup hat-trick ever as the Wallabies won 67-5 - their biggest winning margin against the Eagles - at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Genia, assuming the captaincy for the evening from James Horwill, said: "We spoke about being a little bit smarter in our decision-making. The scoreline was flattering but the best thing was the way we went about it and our decision-making."
Ashley-Cooper profited from inspired back play to notch his treble in the space of just seven minutes and Genia said: "We got clean ball to work with and it made it much easier to get on the front foot."
There was consternation for the Australia camp, however, as Kurtley Beale (hamstring), Robert Horne (cheekbone), Pat McCabe (shoulder), Anthony Faingaa (concussion) and Wycliff Palu (hamstring) went off injured.
Coach Robbie Deans had used all his replacements by the 66th minute, and when Faingaa was taken off on a stretcher right on full-time the Wallabies had to play the remaining seconds with only 14 men.
Australia racked up four tries in the first half to secure the bonus point and within eight minutes of the interval, Drew Mitchell and McCabe had crossed as the Wallabies upped the tempo.
Ashley-Cooper’s first came after the Wallabies swept across the field from a scrum to create an overlap, replacement Berrick Barnes converting after taking over the kicking duties from Quade Cooper.
Barnes added the extras for Ashley-Cooper’s next two tries before Faingaa crossed for his second of the night. Radike Samo strode in for Australia's 11th try.
The Wallabies had been 22-5 up at half-time as they shook off the loss to Ireland last week. They clicked into gear early on as fly half Cooper set up Horne for the opening try, though Beale missed the conversion.
Rocky Elsom crossed next to make it 10-0 but USA, with scrum half and captain Tim Usasz orchestrating matters, found their attacking rhythm.
Fly half Nese Malifa's crossfield kick was superbly taken by right wing Colin Hawley and only a well-positioned Cooper prevented a try.
Australia then held out for 18 phases but from the resulting scrum USA number 8 JJ Gagiano touched down.
Two moments of Australian alertness then created a comfortable margin. First they pounced on a turnover in their own 22, Elsom linking with Ashley-Cooper to set up Beale for a try; four minutes later Faingaa was on hand to profit from a Horne break.
Cooper, who switched to full back when Beale went off just before half-time, had a wayward night with the boot, converting only two of his five chances.
Australia v USA
Friday, September 23
TV Broadcast Details
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
Follow the game LIVE on Twitter thru #AUSvUSA
Will Genia is set to become the 78th Australian Test captain after being appointed as leader of the Wallabies team named today to face the United States at the Rugby World Cup in Wellington on Friday night.
The 23-year-old Queensland halfback, who made his Test debut in New Zealand three seasons ago, has been handed the reins for what will be Australia’s 528th official Test match, standing in for squad skipper James Horwill. Horwill is being allowed to by-pass the match.
“It’s a huge honour, a big responsibility and an occasion that I’m really looking forward to,” Genia says.
“We’ve got a big job ahead of us. The United States showed against Ireland that they are a totally committed opponent, and our own performance against Ireland, which was not up to the high standards we set for ourselves, will only have offered the Americans further encouragement.”
Genia is the 13th player to lead Australia, in what will be the country’s 36th Rugby World Cup match since the four-yearly tournament commenced in 1987.
Seven of those men are Queenslanders, with Genia following on from John Eales (five matches as captain), Andrew Slack (five), Michael Lynagh (four), current Reds skipper Horwill (two), Jason Little (one) and current QRU chairman Rod McCall (one).
While Horwill was available for selection, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the big lock’s work-load is the primary reason behind the decision to allow him to by-pass the match.
“James played every match of the Super Rugby season this year and has missed just one Test [of the seven] played by the Wallabies,” Deans says.
“That schedule has taken its toll. He’s had a recurring niggle with his shoulder over the last month. While an MRI earlier in the week cleared him of any major damage, it’s obvious that a break wouldn’t hurt so we have taken that option.”
Flanker David Pocock has also been allowed to rest up for another week. The discomfort in his lower back, which saw him forced out of the Irish game, has cleared significantly, with Deans saying the Western Force openside was expected to be “good to go” for next week’s final World Cup Pool match against Russia at Nelson.
Nelson is now also the target for winger James O’Connor, who was yesterday diagnosed with a minor hamstring strain.
“It’s more of an annoyance than anything but hamstrings are not something that you mess around with,” Deans says.
“James had a scan yesterday which revealed a strain at the lowest end of the scale. By missing this week to recuperate, we expect him to be available for the match against Russia.”
In the absence of O’Connor, flyhalf Quade Cooper returns as Australia’s lead-off goal-kicker.
Cooper is one of nine players from the starting line-up in last week’s 6-15 loss to Ireland at Auckland, among the run on combination this time.
The changes in the backs see Drew Mitchell installed on the wing in the place of O’Connor, while Rob Horne makes his return to Test rugby at inside centre for Pat McCabe, having last appeared for the Wallabies in 2010 when he played the first six Tests of that season before an elbow injury curtailed his progress.
Horne did feature for the Australian Barbarians during last month’s 38-14 win over Canada on the Gold Coast.
In the pack, flankers Ben McCalman and Rocky Elsom, hooker Tatafu Polota Nau and tighthead prop Ben Alexander are the players to back up from starting against Ireland, with No 8 Wycliff Palu joining McCalman and Elsom in the back row after being used from the bench in Auckland.
Locks Nathan Sharpe and Rob Simmons gain their third Test starts of the season, while James Slipper starts for the first time this year, being named at loosehead prop, after coming off the bench to play tighthead in the previous two tournament matches.
Four of the players from last weekend’s starting line-up: inside centre Pat McCabe, No 8 Radike Samo, lock Dan Vickerman and prop Sekope Kepu, are on the bench this time, being joined by the now fully fit hooker Stephen Moore, halfback Luke Burgess and the versatile playmaker Berrick Barnes.
Moore, who had the misfortune to have to withdraw from last weekend’s Test due to a stomach upset after the side had arrived at Eden Park, will oppose in United States halfback Tim Usasz, a close friend and former club-mate from Brisbane.
Usasz will act as groomsman at Moore’s wedding in South Africa at the end of this year.
Deans says the changes represent the best selection options for this assignment.
“It’s our second six day turnaround in a row so we’re looking to freshen things up a bit,” he says.
The changes in no way represent an under-estimation of Friday night’s opposition.
“It’s exactly the opposite. We are according the USA full respect by opting for the changes we have made,” Deans says, “in order to have a totally fresh and focused team.”
“The responsibility at the Rugby World Cup was always going to fall on the whole group, both in preparation and on match day, and that’s what is happening here. We trust all of our players which is why we are prepared to make the changes that we have for such an important match.”
Hooker Saia Fainga’a, originally pencilled in for the bench, was ruled out this morning due to a bout of flu while blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham, who was originally scheduled to play, was withdrawn after jarring his back at today’s training session.
In the US camp, head coach Eddie O'Sullivan on Wednesday announced his team to play their third Pool C match against Australia at Wellington Regional Stadium on Friday, with the Irish-born mentor making 14 changes to his Starting XV.
Previously, the USA have never changed their lineup with more than nine different players in successive RWC matches at the same tournament.
It also marked the most changes made by any side so far at Rugby World Cup 2011.
The only player to retain his spot in the starting lineup is second row Hayden Smith.
Six of the players that were not chosen in the first 22 against Ireland and Russia were promoted to the starting lineup. Another, Brian McClenahan, was chosen among the replacements.
Todd Clever, who captained USA against Ireland and Russia, has joined several other key players in being rested and is not even in the 22. The captaincy has been passed to scrumhalf Tim Usasz, who joins Hayden Smith as the two Australian-born players in the USA squad.
A former Australian Universities halfback, Usasz will captain the USA side for the first time in his career. He becomes the 10th Eagles skipper in World Cup history.
With the exception of #3 hooker McLenahan, all of the players who logged less than a game’s worth of time are starting on Friday.
15. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
13. Anthony Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
12. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
11. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds, captain)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7. Ben McCalman (Western Force)
6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
17. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
18. Dan Vickerman (NSW Waratahs)
19. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds)
20. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
21. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)
22. Pat McCabe (Brumbies)
1. Shawn Pittman
2. Phil Thiel
3. Eric Fry
4. Scott LaValla
5. Hayden Smith
6. Inaki Basauri
7. Pat Danahy
8. JJ Gagiano
9. Tim Usasz (c)
10. Nese Malifa
11. Kevin Swiryn
12. Junior Sifa
13. Tai Enosa
14. Colin Hawley
15. Blaine Scully
16. Brian McClenahan
17. Matekitonga Moeakiola
18. Louis Stanfill
19. Nic Johnson
20. Mike Petri
21. Roland Suniula
22. Chris Wyles
Australia v United States – Historical Notes
• This is the seventh match between teams representing Australia and the United States of America, with Australia having been successful on all six previous occasions dating back to a 12-8 success in the inaugural match at Berkeley, California, in 1912.
• A gap of 64 years spanned the first two Test matches between Australia and the United States, with the second Test between the countries not until 1976 when the Wallaby tourists, who were returning home from a disappointing tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland which saw just one of the four Tests won, beat the United States 24-12 at Anaheim in California.
• That match was the first ‘Test’ played by the United States against anybody in 52 years, with the national team having been mothballed after rugby had been removed from the Olympic Sports roster following the 1924 Olympic Games.
• 15-aside Rugby has featured just twice at the Olympics, and the United States won both of the gold medals, beating France in 1920 and again in 1924. Just France and the United States competed in 1920, while Romania was also included at the 1924 Games. Rugby returns to the Olympic fold in 2016 when Rugby Sevens makes its debut at the Rio de Janero Games in Brazil.
• Australia and the United States have met on two previous occasions at Rugby World Cups, with Australia winning 47-12 in Brisbane at the inaugural tournament in 1987, and 55-19 at Limerick, Ireland, 12 years later.
• American centre, Juan Grobler, who scored the Eagles’ try against Australia in 1999, was the only opposition player to successfully cross the Wallabies’ goal-line during Australia’s run to the title at that tournament.
• The Australian goal-line is intact to date at the 2011 tournament, with neither Italy nor Ireland posting a try against Australia during the Wallabies’ opening two matches.
• The United States warmed up for Friday’s match with a 13-6 success over Russia in New Plymouth, which followed a 10-22 loss to Ireland first up. The win over Russia was just the USA’s third from 19 tournament matches at Rugby World Cup, with the previous wins having been achieved against Japan in 1987 and again in 2003. Both of those wins were achieved on Australian soil.
• The United States has contested six of the seven Rugby World Cups to have been held to date, only missing out on the 1995 event in South Africa when the Eagles failed to qualify.
• Eagles coach Eddie O’Sullivan previously faced Australia as Irish coach at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
*Win/loss ratio as of 19/9/2011
21 MAY 2013