The Wallabies have announced themselves as side of the future after working themselves to exhaustion in their 16-all-draw with the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington this afternoon in the first of four Bledisloe Cup Test Matches in 2020.
New Wallabies Coach Dave Rennie evidently prepared this young side superbly with brave selections of debutants Harry Wilson, Hunter Paisami and Filipo Daugunu all looking more than capable at test level.
At times the Wallabies were their own worst enemies with inaccuracy at the breakdown and poor option taking in their opponents 22 yet their attitude and enthusiasm for contact was a significant improvement. Rennie’s men brought lethal line speed and rattled the All Blacks attack numerous times with bone jarring defence and new defence coach Matt Taylor should be applauded for his efforts.
There is room for improvement, but these Wallabies did themselves, the jersey and their nation proud this afternoon. How did the Wallabies rate?
1. James Slipper – 7/10
The veteran prop had a solid shift despite the Wallabies scrum having issues with timing on the engage. He was industrious around the park and showed that he is still one of the premier loose heads in the Australian game.
2. Folau Fainga’a – 6/10
Was guilty of several unforced errors in and around the lineout when the Wallabies were on attack. Needs to develop more to his game than scoring tries off the back of rolling mauls from the set piece if he is to be a long-term Wallaby.
3. Taniela Tupou – 6.5/10
Was tremendous with his line-speed, and also with his ball carries ‘Tongan Thor’ was guilty several times on infringing around the clean out whilst on attack thwarting his sides momentum. Will need to address this moving into next week.
4. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – 8/10
Arguably his greatest test. He was physical on both sides of the ball and largely had improved his body height in contact. Looks much more effective playing in the engine room and was a leader out there today.
5. Matt Philip – 7.5/10
The absolute ‘workhorse’ of the Wallaby pack and was in the thick of it being in cleaning out, running support lines or taking the ball over the advantage line. Will only get better after today’s test as he will know now he can be effective at this level.
6. Harry Wilson – 7.5/10
Played as all Wallaby fans hoped he would. He was physical and at times was a handful for the All Blacks and thought he outplayed Shannon Frizzell. Wilson looked comfortable at test level, but also played intelligently, running support lines allowing space to open up elsewhere. Was most effective running in the wider channels and linking up with fellow debutant Filipo Daugunu.
7. Michael Hooper – 7.5/10
Was tireless in his 100th test. Whilst I thought he was outplayed by Sam Cane, Hoop’s was a handful for the All Blacks around the breakdown. He needed to get his side to cut out the silly errors and poor option taking earlier as a leader should but all together another quality Michael Hooper shift.
8. Pete Samu – 7/10
A very tough, honest performance by the former Crusader. Was the perfect option to balance what Wilson and Hooper bring to the table and was a warrior in the breakdown and with the ball in hand busting through two would be All Blacks defenders.
9. Nic White – 7.5/10
Was a real general out there and does not appear daunted by Aaron Smith. Whilst finding the ire of the referee for too much chat, the former Exeter half was a handful for his opponents today. The only real blemish was his missed tackle on Aaron Smith that lead to an All Black try.
10. James O’Connor – 7.5/10
His option taking was more often than not the right one. He took the ball to the line when it was required and his foot work and timed pass to Marika Koroibete was centimetre perfect.
11. Marika Koroibete – 6.5/10
Scored a wonderful try yet also guilty of giving away penalties and not securing possession when on attack. That aside, a credible day out.
12. Matt To’omua – 6.5/10
Was physical in defence and had some wonderful touches in attack working off O’Connor well. Yet his option taking on the attack was questionable kicking when he should have retained possession and allow for the pressure to keep building.
13. Hunter Paisami – 7/10
Was fearsome with his physicality and what impressed was his directness. Only on one occasion was he caught drifting but his strength allowed him to stay in the contest. A very encouraging test debut.
14. Filipo Daugunu – 7.5/10
Was exceptional for debutant. Scored a wonderful try, solid in defence and worked well over the ball. If he and Harry Wilson can keep working off each other they will cause the All Blacks plenty of issues next week.
15. Tom Banks – 6.5/10
A fair day out and was largely safe up the back and chimed in nicely on a number of occasions in attack. Would like to see him be a hungrier for involvement on attack as when he is one he is a potent threat.
16. Jordan Uelese – 6/10 – Solid but the Wallabies finishing front row collectively will need address scrum issues.
17. Scott Sio – 6/10 – Solid yet the same as Uelese will need to fix the scrum.
18. Allan Alaalatoa – 6.5 – Coming on for Toupo, he got through plenty of work and was safe when involved. Solid performance.
19. Rob Simmons 5/10 – Had some quality involvements yet for a player of his experience, he really should have not have infringed in the maul allowing the All Blacks to slot the goal leveling the scores at 16-16.
20. Rob Valetini – 5/10 – Didn’t do anything of note apart from dropping one cold.
21. Jake Gordon – 5.5/10 – Was respectable but the Wallabies looked more fluid when White was on the field.
22. Noah Lolesio – N/A
23. Reece Hodge – 6/10 – Was safe and nearly clinched it for the Wallabies with his own ‘John Eales’ moment but it wasn’t to be.
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