Wallabies vs Springboks: Five things we learned

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

What are we talking about after the Wallabies' first 2016 win? 

1. The pain has ended

It’s been nearly 11 months between drinks but the Wallabies finally found themselves on the winning side of the ledger. Relief might be the overwhelming emotion and it certainly seemed that way when captain Stephen Moore spoke post-match. Visibly emotional, Moore thanked fans for sticking by the players during a time in which he and his team have been under a burning spotlight.

2. Win brings perspective

This Test was supposed to tell us where the Wallabies are in the Rugby Championship pecking order and if that’s the case, things might not be as catastrophic as the narrative in recent weeks would suggest. Not everything was perfect, far from it, but Australia’s attack looked smoother - they had more linebreaks in three-quarters of the game than in the rest of their Rugby Championship campaign combined. There was a sense of composure the Wallabies haven’t shown for much of the season, as the home side worked its way back from a 14-3 deficit, a margin that in other Tests would have unravelled them.

3. Welcome home, Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper was at home at Suncorp Stadium and looked it from the opening minute. The Wallabies flyhalf showed some attacking flair both with ball in hand, but more so off his boot, not afraid to experiment. That’s not to say he abandoned the passing - Cooper’s slick hands set Samu Kerevi up for one of the best attacking chances the Wallabies had in the first half, in a chain that would have Reds fans counting down the days until the 2017 Super Rugby season. And in a great day for Queenslanders, Will Genia proved yet again he's well and truly still a Test calibre player.

4. Straightening out

The contest in the lineout was more even on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesThe broken record was finally mended on Saturday night for the Wallabies, with the home side showing some much-needed improvement in their set piece. Fifty minutes in they had won 11 lineouts, more than their tally in either Bledisloe Test. It wasn’t perfect - they lost their first lineout midway through the second half, but nearly 60 minutes without a loss was a far cry from the wobbles they had against New Zealand.

5. Hodge not just a super boot

Reece Hodge once again proved he’s a mature head on 21-year-old shoulders. After slotting a long range penalty in Wellington, Hodge was effective in defence and attack on Saturday night. The Rebels utility showed strength in the breakdown, protecting the ball from a Francois Louw charge in the lead up to the Wallabies’ first try, and making some pivotal tackles. The kid is going places.