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By Stephen Hoiles
The biggest game in Australian Rugby since the 2003 RWC got off to the worst possible start for the Qantas Wallabies.
1min 20 into the game and the visitors had already crossed next to the post after an error of judgement between Kane Douglas and Will Genia at the kickoff. You got the sense after that start it was going to be one of those nights for the Wallabies and it got progressively worse. They showed some fight by getting back to within 3 points soon after half time but that’s where it ended for the Qantas Wallabies.
All week I felt that the Lions would struggle to find tries. After the second test in Melbourne, they looked like they were a team content with trying to exert pressure at set piece, play for field position and take shots at goal at every given opportunity. I presumed the Qantas Wallabies had too many strike weapons, like Genia Beale, JOC, AAC. I couldn’t possibly see how the Lions would outscore us with tries….How wrong I was.
When loose head prop Alex Corbisiero scored so quickly and so easily in the second minute, I like most Wallaby fans feared the worst. The Lions then quickly turned their focus to the Srcum. Complete domination by the Lions is the only way to describe the Lions scrum.
The Lions Coaching staff made several changes throughout all 3 tests and while some were highly criticised, they need to be applauded for their tactical nouse when it came to the front row selections. To change 2 of your 3 starting front rowers for the final test was a big call and it paid huge dividends. The wallaby scrum simply couldn’t compete with the power of the British Lions.
One of the main talking points over the last 6 weeks has been the ongoing debate about who should wear the Wallaby number 10 jumper. You have to admire Robbie Deans, he is a coach who backs his decisions. Having James O’Connor as his first and only choice number 10 in his squad of 30 was always going to be a make or break selection. Unfortunately, this decision didn’t pay off. James O’Connor is a fabulous talent. He is one of the best runners in Australian Rugby, His ability to beat a man 1 on 1 is outstanding, as seen in the try that he scored just before half time. That try highlighted to me what his natural instincts are as a rugby player….To look for running opportunities for himself before he looks for to find opportunities to the players outside him. This isn’t a selfish act by the way, it is what 95% of all rugby players in the world are taught to do. It just not what a 5/8th should do, in my opinion.
It has been a tough 48 hours for the young star and I hope he bounces back for the Qantas Wallabies in next month’s rugby Championship. I just don’t think it will be in the number 10 jumper.
As a Wallaby fan, it’s hard to comprehend a score-line of 41-16. How could 3 points separate the two teams over the first two games and then a points difference of 25 in the biggest game in Australia since the 2003 RWC Final?
As disappointing as it is, I hope it doesn’t overshadow the last six weeks of what has been a wonderful series. The fans from up North really know how to support their team and to see 83,000 fans at ANZ Stadium was amazing to witness.
Congratulations to the British and Irish, when it was needed most you delivered and after Saturday night’s performance, you deserve to take the Tom Richards Cup home.