What did we learn from the Wallabies' opening loss to England?
1. 251 days is a long time in football
October 3, 2015 everything clicked for the Wallabies. On june 11, 2016, things fell away. There was no 28-point performance from Bernard Foley, rather patchy performance as his opponent booted 25 points to hurt the Wallabies. Their passes were fumbled rather than gathered and refereeing decisions went against them time and time again. The scrum dominance they had lauded over England in last year’s World Cup dissipated, though the endeavour remained through the full match. The Wallabies can turn this around and they have to do it fast.On the upside, the opening match of the series will have whet the public’s appetite for another serving.
2. Discipline required
Australia worked its way into a position of dominance early but a raft of penalties gave England flyhalf Owen Farrell the opportunity to slot four penalties in the opening half and spur the visitors to a half-time lead.Potentially lucky not to have conceded a yellow in the opening stages. Scott Sio was binned midway through the second half for repeated scrum infringements as the penalty count hit 15-8 for the game. Even considering any contentious decisions, the Wallabies will need to address this issue ahead of the Melbourne Test or they’ll find themselves in a dark, dark place in seven days’ time.
3. Haskell answers breakdown challenge
He started just one match at last year’s Rugby World Cup but James Haskell has been reinvigorated under Eddie Jones. He was a physical enforcer for England and wreaked havoc in the breakdown, shattering the invincible aura of the Wallabies backrow.
4. Hooper on fire
As far as timing goes, Michael Hooper’s is pretty well spot on. The NSW flanker was outstanding for the Wallabies on Saturday night, scoring two tries and showing off his trademark endurance. It was a tough night for the Wallabies but Hooper did everything he could.He finished with 78 run metres, two line breaks and four tackle busts for the night.
5. Clutch calls more than contentious
Australia's decision making in some crucial junctures hurt the Wallabies on Saturday night. Tevita Kuridrani missed a chance for an outside pass to Israel Folau that would have put the Wallabies back within striking distance late in the second half. Seven points down, Michael Hooper opted to go for three points in the 74th minute, with the chance to draw the game by kicking to touch. Whether that hurt or showed a desire to win, it's a decision that could weigh on Australia's minds.