The message from the Wallabies camp was clear earlier in the week: shut down new powerhouse All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke.
At least that was the memo given out by Australian wing Filipo Daugunu, who was tasked with marking the 21-year-old dynamo in the third Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney.
“Our aim is to kick to him,” Daugunu told media in the days leading up to the potentially decisive trans-Tasman test.
“For him to catch so we can smash him. Our target this week was him.”
Unfortunately for Daugunu, a case of overeagerness has cost his side dearly in the opening stages of the test, with the two-cap wing sent from the field via a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Clarke.
True to their word, the Australians targeted the two-test Kiwi through an aerial bombardment in the first few minutes of the contest, and made a conscious effort make sure he wasn’t afforded the room that made him so dangerous in Auckland a fortnight ago.
However, Daugunu took his commitment to the cause too far, flying in on Clarke while he was airborne in just the fourth minute of the match, leaving referee Ben O’Keefe no decision but to send the Fijian-born Australian to the sin bin.
Fortunate to avoid a red card thanks to the fact Clarke didn’t land on his head, Daugunu didn’t escape an onslaught of criticism on social media, with numerous pundits taking to Twitter to voice their discontent over his ill-discipline.
Daugunu spoke about smashing Clarke earlier this week… and now over-exuberance costs Aussies a yellow card early doors. Wallabies on the back foot now#AUSvNZL
— Jon Cardinelli (@jon_cardinelli) October 31, 2020
Yellow all day long.. He's lucky he didn't land on his head or it would have been a red #AUSvNZL
— Howell Rees (@H_MAN01) October 31, 2020
Those words from Daugunu this week may be coming back like a cold pie in the face…. Justin's certainly wanting blood…. #AUSvNZL
— Cornflake (@CornflakeBTP) October 31, 2020
— Sean (@SeanTafirenyika) October 31, 2020
Filipo Daugunu was yellow carded in Super Rugby AU final for dangerous tackles.
Yellow carded again. This time for tackling the man in the air.
Yet again, just reckless from the Wallabies winger.
— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) October 31, 2020
— Will (@Allsortssports1) October 31, 2020
Thats a red #AUSvNZL
— Mark J (@hoomanbear) October 31, 2020
Filipo! ???? #AUSvNZL
— SuckerForRed (@SuckerForRed) October 31, 2020
Like why would you attempt that tackle? So stupid. #AUSvNZL
— Master Of None Podcast (@MasterOfNonePod) October 31, 2020
Daugunu’s absence allowed the All Blacks to enjoy a one-man numerical advantage, of which they fully capitalised on by sending loosehead prop Karl Tu’inukuafe in for his first test try in the seventh minute.
However, another moment of controversy just moments later cancelled out any buffer the All Blacks had, with wing Jordie Barrett handed a yellow card for an elbow to the face of Marika Koroibete in the ninth minute.
Perhaps a bit more innocuous than Daugunu’s infringement, the ongoing replays on the big screen of what might have been intended to be a fend worked in Australia’s favour, and Twitter users were quick to voice their opinions.
Pure case of why Jordie Barrett isn’t a winger, if that’s Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, or Reiko Ioane they score. Instead it’s a penalty, lost possession and yellow card #AUSvNZL
— Ben (@BencerasaIe) October 31, 2020
— Tim Findlay (@TimFindlay) October 31, 2020
— mosuwe (@Sechabs15) October 31, 2020
What a mess. Barrett should be binned for that #AUSvNZL
— larry kwirirayi (@kwirirayi) October 31, 2020
Not even close to a fend. #AUSvNZL
— Brian Ashby (@BrianAshby2) October 31, 2020
That has to be a yellow #AUSvNZL
— Chris (@iamchrisforreal) October 31, 2020
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