Wallabies Evolution Not Complete

Wallabies Evolution Not CompleteWell done to the men in Black (both matches that is). The most experienced New Zealand side in All Black history dating back to 1903, with an average age over 29 with 51 caps per player, defeated the young upstarts from across the ditch; who may have left their run for this year’s World Cup a little late.

The choice by Graham Henry to go with seasoned campaigners, like Brad Thorn (36), Kevin Mealamu (32), Mils Muliaina (31), Ali Williams (30) and others such as Sitiveni Sivivatu (29) and Piri Weepu (27),that are almost past their use-by dates, proved the goods on the day.

On the other side of the world another ‘All Black’ outfit, namely the English Rugby Union team, wheeled out 2003 World Cup winning hero, Jonny Wilkinson (32), at Twickenham to boot England to a 23-19 win over Wales (despite a 2-3 try count) in front of 80,942 supporters in a ‘friendly’.

However, Robbie Deans has put faith in his young charges, which they will be all the better for, as it is hard to see Richie McCaw (30) & co. getting any better. There is also the belief that winning this match was not as important for Australia. New Zealand’s Dominion Post wrote yesterday, It was yet another superb performance from Graham Henry’s men and it’s difficult to know what else needs to be improved on before the World Cup, so good was the performance. The All Blacks had more to lose in the game. A Wallabies defeat could be comfortably brushed off as this is still a young Australia side that’s developing and they also have a number of key players to come back in time for the World Cup.

Key players like: Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Tatafu Polota-Nao and Wycliff Palu. As well as experienced options Deans could have used, namely Nathan Sharpe and Radike Samo, who are already on the plane to Durban; and don’t forget Matt Giteau & Wycliff Palu are still in the mix come the World Cup, starting in just 5 weeks. Having players like Barnes and Giteau still in the wings must be comforting for Deans -not Pat McCabe though. Robbie Deans has persevered with his captain Rocky Elsom, whilst he has Scott Higginbotham biting at his heels. McCalman must certainly be feeling the heat after his ordinary performance on the weekend that was surely over shadowed when Higginbotham came on.

Taking nothing from the Kiwis polished demolition (3 tries to 2) of the Aussies, despite the latter having greater possession. Defence was the All Black’s weapon of mass destruction. Their defensive umbrella restricted Quade Cooper’s ability to manoeuvre, which begs the question if there was a playmaker like Giteau or Barnes at inside-centre to relieve some pressure a better result could have been achieved. Kurtley Beale, Will Genia and Digby Ioane were outstanding, showing that options were available when Cooper became flustered.

Against any other side they would have scored at least three more tries that the ABs defence thwarted and James O’Conner’s kicking (0-3) did not help, with Carter tallying 14-points from his boot (3 cons, 2 pens, 1 dg 100% putting him further ahead of Wilkinson who still tallied 13 at the weekend and has another chance at Millennium Stadium this weekend).

This emerging Wallaby outfit is not done yet, by any margin. They fly off to South Africa for next week’s match against a Springbok outfit, in Durban, that need to get out of the starting blocks for their run to retain the Webb-Ellis Trophy. The ABs will rest Dan Carter for their match in the Republic the following weekend, in Port Elizabeth, ahead of the final clash in Brisbane on August 27th -the last word before the World Cup begins. Player management seems to be the key, the Queensland Reds have the Super 15 trophy and the New Zealanders retain the Bledisloe Cup; but as a Kiwi friend said to me Saturday, “There is only one Cup that counts in a World Cup year!”

For more information visit the Website: www.brisbanerugby.com

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