Wallaroos v Canada: Five things we learned

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

The Wallaroos flew out of the barriers today but were eventually outclassed by Canada, falling 43-12.

So, what are we talking about with their World Cup campaign now in the rearview mirror?

1. Scrum instability costly

The Wallaroos have improved so many different facets of their game but their scrum is not one of them.

The turning point in this match was just over 20 minutes in, when Australia lost their first scrum against the feed.

Scrum after scrum was penalised in the remainder of the match, as Canada took complete control.

A malfunctioning set piece makes it so hard to win games of rugby and while the Wallaroos look sharp with ball in hand, conceding a penalty every time you pack down for a scrum is simply too much to overcome.

2. Ill discipline deadly

Canada made the Wallaroos pay when they were short handed. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan HertelThe Wallaroos played 30 minutes with one woman in the sin bin today.

While a malfunctioning scrum makes life difficult, playing shorthanded for that long almost certainly guarantees defeat.

Rebecca Clough saw yellow for a high shot, Liz Patu was sent for an unnecessary stomp on a Canada player and Cheyenne Campbell was binned for repeated infringements.

The Canadians, in contrast, were penalised just three times and none of those were in their own half.

3. Ball handling proves critical

When the Australians shot out to a 12-7 lead in the first quarter of the match, there was no drop ball.

A 15 phase movement set up Sarah Riordan's try but as soon as the Australian forwards started to spill clean ball, the tide turned.

It sounds simple but sometimes things really are that straightforward.

Dropped ball put Canada back in the match and they never looked back.

4. Undoubted improvement

The Wallaroos have completely transformed their attack. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan HertelWhile the three observations made above are negative ones, there is no doubting this Wallaroos outfit is markedly better than the side that was flogged in three Tests in June.

The Australians fell 45-5 to the Canadians in one of those three Tests and while a 43-12 result doesn't look like a great deal of improvement on paper, the quality of rugby this team is producing is in stark contrast to what we saw across the ditch.

The attack is genuinely threatening with every set, the defence is far more organised and while the scrum is still a major weakness, clean ball is often produced at lineout time.

5. More funding will produce better results

There is no doubt that this Wallaroos squad, of which the large majority have played fewer than 10 Tests, has what it takes to compete with the world's best.

The improvement in this team from the opening pool match, against Ireland, to what they produced against Ireland in the fifth place playoff semi and in the loss today is remarkable.

With better funding peering over the horizon, a top four finish is well within reach in 2021.