There wasn’t one standout performance in the Wallabies’ grind against Wales but rather a handful of players who injected fresh legs.
Michael Cheika’s ‘finishers’ were highlighted as critical in the lead-up to the match and that they proved that in a flurry of interchanges after the Wallabies found themselves two men down.
Ben McCalman was the one that jumps to mind most prominently pulling off a try-saving tackle, Greg Holmes and James Slipper added fresh energy into the scrum and the outside backs added strong run.
Blindside flanker Scott Fardy, who played out the full 80 minutes, described the match as the greatest defensive display he’s been a part of.
He was quick to praise the entire 23 when asked about the end of the gruelling period, when the Wallabies made it out of their own 22.
“I didn’t have much of a feeling I was pretty buggered at that point,” he said.
“It was great and what was really pleasing... was all our bench was just fantastic.
“Our bench brought us home. Our starters kept us in the battle early and then our bench brought us home which was great.
“I was just so happy for those guys that probably don’t play the max amount of minutes to come on and they did their job perfectly.”
While no side ever prepares for a 13-on-15 situation, Fardy said the side was calm about its approach and ultimately intelligent in the breakdown.
“You’ve just got to be smart about the decisions you make around the breakdown and I thought we did that,” he said.
“We were really smart, we didn’t over commit in the breakdown and just held on for those points.
“You realise you’ve got a couple of big shifts ahead of you in defence and it’s just pretty much lile a fitness game .
The whole squad mentality has been an obvious strategy of head coach Michael Cheika, who has used all bar two of his 31-man squad through the tournament and Fardy said a situation like Saturday’s vindicated that.
“I think it’s a 23-man game,” he said.
“They come on and make a real difference.
“The fitness levels of everyone are going to be tested in this world cup and you can’t have your guys playing 80 minutes every week.
“Those guys that come on have a job to do and they’ve been doing the job for us every time.”
Cheika was vocal in his praise of the eight who came off the bench, almost all in that pivotal period.
“The finishers did a fantastic job tonight,” he said.
“They were unreal in doing the work of one-and-a-half men each of them to try and bring their freshness in the game.
“They all came on pretty much in that chaotic period and really managed it very well.”