Pumas vs Wallabies: How the players rated

The Rugby Championship
by Iain Payten

The Wallabies combined their worst half of football in a long time with one of their best in the second, and got the chocolates in Salta. Like the Wallabies' scoreline, their low ratings climbed in the second period but how did they finish?

Dane Haylett-Petty 7

Safe as houses in the air, slippery in contact and did well to finish in both of his tries. But that was all mostly second half - and that’ll be a theme in these ratings. Blemishes included not clearing from his own territory and allowing the Pumas territory to score tries.

Israel Folau 7

Ran a superb hard line to score a try and another long probing run helped set up DHP’s try via a Foley cross kick. Both, tellingly, came when Folau was positioned more midfield than on the edge, which screams to the Wallabies coaches that the most dangerous runner needs to be consistently closer to the ball. Points off for pushed passes.

Reece Hodge 4

Tough game for Hodge, given he was consistently on the end of a deeply flawed gameplay in the first half - where the Wallabies obsessively sought to attack on the sidelines, and did so with poor skill. Hodge’s pop pass in the first half to Hooper was picked off, too, for a Pumas try.


Kurtley Beale 6

Dropping a ball cold on a promising attack summed up Beale’s opening half, when panic abounded. But when he - along with other game managers - played within themselves, ran straighter and squared up in the second half, the space began to appear. Big lesson there. Beale’s long kicking was effective, and crucial.

Marika Koroibete 6

Works so hard, clearly, but the rush of blood is Koroibete’s worst enemy. Far too often the flying speedster tried to throw the speculative offload when going to ground and going again was the play. Defensively strength is under-appreciated, too.

Bernard Foley 7

The benefit of having the Wallabies’ most regular and experienced no.10 on the park was evident in the second half, when his straighter angles and smarts to kick long out of the Aussie quarter was the key to success. Always more dangerous going to the line. Let’s hope that second half is now the Wallabies benchmark, as far as gameplan goes.

Will Genia 6

Mixed opening 40 minutes but another who improved in the second half, when the plan to play out of nine and hit direct runners kicked in. A handful of defensive errors but while everyone is focussed on Cheika’s spray, check out Genia’s as the players came off at halftime. 

David Pocock 9

What more can be said about this bloke? Scored a try, gave the last pass for another, made the most tackles by a Wallaby and also the most carries. High mark given the first half but take a second watch of the game and count up how many times Pocock made a critical play. Gives absolutely everything, every single time.

Michael Hooper 7

Strong shift from the skipper, who hasn’t been in the best form this winter after injury. Scored a hard-line try and his bump-spin early in the second gave a good indication of the intent of the team. Good hands to help Rodda get his reward after a charge down.

Ned Hanigan 6

Cops plenty of heat, does Hanigan, but this was one of his strongest showings in gold. Responded to the call for power work in the second half and got some good pay in the contact zones. Was a reliable line out target, too.

Adam Coleman 7

Was a dominant force in defence in tight, and could have rated even higher but a few discipline issues shaved some ticks off. Must also get come credit for his role, as leader, in resolving the line out problems. Wobbled early but it was spot-on for most of the game.

Izack Rodda 7

Deserves a wrap. Has struggled at times to assert himself in Tests this year but Rodda’s energy was a big part of the comeback. His charge down try was a reward for consistent effort, and his defensive work on Pumas ball-runners was muscular. That’s the stuff.

Taniela Tupou 4

Only on the field for the awful first half and didn’t shine. A few missed tackles (although he wasn’t Hans Solo) and a back-chat penalty took away points. Given Allan Alaalatoa’s second half dig, recon we’ll see Tupou back to being a super sub in Japan

Folau Faingaa 5

Another who only played in the first half, so didn’t get a chance to redeem himself in the second. But no major pluses in forgettable first 40 minutes for all, and a few line out losses early.

Scott Sio 5

Not alone, but Sio hasn’t seemed to find a happy place on-field this winter. Always works hard but the energy levels added by replacement front row didn’t paint any of the starters in a good light.

Reserves

Tolu Latu 7

Was due to score higher after a huge second half cameo, but late yellow card took off a point. Latu is known as rocks or diamonds and his effort in Salta was  a gem. The intensity in the defence, ball carrying and subtle passing skill to set up Israel Folau’s try was brilliant. Can he back it up?

Sekope Kepu 7

Can’t underestimate how big a shift this was for Kepu, whose hunger levels have been questioned this year. Came on and carried hard, upping the levels of everyone around him. 

Allan Alaalatoa 8
They say competition is good for players and look no further than Alaalatoa, A for evidence. His work off the bench was open of the key elements in Australia’s comeback - tough, dynamic and reliable. When the Wallabies needed some hard work done, Alaalatoa put up his hand.

Rob Simmons 5

Limited involvement but got through his work without error.

Caleb Timu n/a

No game time.

Nick Phipps n/a

Limited involvement.

Matt Toomua n/a 

Limited minutes.

Tom Banks n/a

No game time.