'No doubt the best tighthead in the world now' - Taniela Tupou is a 'must start' for the Wallabies after decimating All Blacks with cameo
Poor discipline cost both teams during the first-half, with All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Wallabies debutant Lachlan Swinton both shown red cards for separate incidents. But it was the Wallabies who handled the pressure better, with a clinical display off the tee from Reece Hodge guiding the hosts to a two-point lead inside the final 10 minutes.
But a try to replacement Taniela Tupou sealed the deal for the Wallabies, capping off what was a great cameo from the powerful prop.
Tupou was subbed on with just over 25 minutes to play, and the Wallabies almost immediately benefited from his impact.
Just a few minutes after coming on, the man known as the ‘Tongan Thor’ monstered his way through the All Blacks scrum to earn his side a kickable penalty when they were trailing by four-points at the time. The Brisbane crowd erupted and Fox Sports commentator, Greg Martin, simply said, “the game has changed” with the 24-year-old on the field.
Fans on Twitter seemed to echo Martin’s view, with Tupou continuing to create havoc as the match went on.
— Master Of None Podcast (@MasterOfNonePod) November 7, 2020
Man I'm so impressed with how Tupou has improved. He's always had big carries but his improvement in scrummaging is immense. Wallabies would be struggling without his scrum penalties and big carries. #AUSvNZL
— Such Is Life…. (@EnslinMavunga) November 7, 2020
— Anthony Posa (@AntsPosa) November 7, 2020
Wilson, Petaia, Lolesio, McDermott, Tupou, Philip, Bell, Wright, McReight, Paisami, Banks. I’m pretty excited to see Aus in a years time as they get more comfortable at this level #AUSvNZL
— Matt Griffiths (@mattagriffiths) November 7, 2020
What a beast! He was unreal through every phase leading to that try!
— LDF (@lften10) November 7, 2020
— Richard Booth (@RichardB3127) November 7, 2020
Taniela Tupou is pretty unstoppable
— Phil Michel (@m1che2) November 7, 2020
Taniela Tupou is our new national hero
What a beast #BledisloeCup
— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) November 7, 2020
Tupou sent his home crowd into a frenzy with five minutes to play when he muscled his was over for a try that put his side up by eight points after it was converted.
? Starts and ends with big Nela
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 8, 2020
12 phases into a relentless Wallabies attack deep inside their attacking 22, Tupou got the ball just a metre out from the line and scored by beating experienced campaigners in TJ Perenara and Anton Lienert-Brown.
The prop had also made his mark on attack leading up to the score, bumping aside Sam Whitelock, Reiko Ioane and Ardie Savea. Tupou finished Bledisloe IV with 20 post-contact metres from his four runs.
Taniela Tupou destroyed the scrum, two runs to hit the gain line and give momentum and a try….Impact player in the final quarter of the match. Please do not blow this #AUSvNZL
— Cohiba Smoke (@CircusMaximu5) November 7, 2020
Great impact from Taniela Tupou. Match winner ??#AusvNZ
— Ed Griffith (@edgriff68) November 7, 2020
— Kathy Fuller (Heaney) (@KathleanFuller) November 7, 2020
Taniela Tupou is a great player, how the hell do you stop that bloke. He’s a fridge freezer
— Mathew Nash (@mathew_nash89) November 7, 2020
That should be the winner for Taniela Tupou. Deservedly scores after twice breaking the All Blacks’ defensive line in that movement. All Blacks have been there for the taking in this Test.#AUSvNZL
— Dylan Jack (@dylanmattjack) November 7, 2020
There is no way you could incentivize me to try and tackle either Ardie or Taniela Tupou. I’m all the way good.
— Vincent T (@Vin_Tru) November 7, 2020
Taniela Tupou powered over Whitelock, R. Ioane & Savea before scoring through Perenara & Lienert-Brown in 3 carries. Finished with 4 runs, 75% gain line success, 20 metres post contact, most of it before that try. Add in that scrum pen. Great cameo. Couldn’t be stopped. #AUSvNZL
Taniela Tupou is so smooth for a big guy, the way he evaded the tackle to set up the try was just ?
— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) November 7, 2020
Tupou’s cameo also reignites the debate for who should start at tighthead prop for the Wallabies. Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa has come into the first XV for the last two tests, while Tupou started the first two.
While his impact off the bench can’t be questioned, fans want to see more of the Tongan Thor from the opening whistle.
Why did the @wallabies start without @TanielaTupou though? They lost a lot of power from their forwards with him warming the bench. If I was the Australia coach, this bloke would be the first name on my starting lineup! #TriNations @TheChai_vinist
— RantingMrP (@RantingMrP) November 7, 2020
Getting very 2020 vibes from Australia’s continuous reluctance to start Taniela Tupou at tighthead. Barmy; the bloke’s different gravy. #BledisloeCup
— Charles Richardson (@CERichardson_) November 7, 2020
Taniela Tupou goes over for the winning try against the All Blacks.
How on earth was he ever dropped after his extraordinary performance in the First Test?
Wallabies ahead 24-15, four mins to go.
— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) November 7, 2020
After starting the series with a 16-all draw in Wellington, the win see the Wallabies avoid a winless record against the All Blacks this year.
While it could be a turning point for the Wallabies going forward, coach Dave Rennie isn’t completely satisfied.
“You don’t win the Bledisloe Cup by winning one and drawing one,” Rennie said post-match.
“What it tells us is that if we work hard enough for each other we can get results against anyone.
“But it doesn’t count for much tonight unless we back it up against Argentina in a couple of weeks.”
The Wallabies next take the field at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium on the 21st, where they’ll look to improve on their one win, one loss record in the Tri Nations.
They’ll face Argentina who got the better of non-matchday squad members in two meetings over the past two weeks. More recently, the likes of Fraser McReight and Isi Naisarani were included in a Rugby Australia XV that lost to the Puma 57-24 at Leichhardt Oval.
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