Dave Rennie’s side were a touch unlucky in the two penalties that allowed the Pumas to draw level. For mine, Facundo Isa had a knee on the ground before being rewarded by referee Paul Williams for a ruck penalty, while Emiliano Boffelli knocked on under the high ball just before Matt Philip was adjudged to have played at the ball from an offside position.
Nonetheless, the coach might have to cop it on the chin that his substitutions didn’t work. Jake Gordon was a bit scrappy at halfback and Liam Wright couldn’t generate much punch, but the real head scratchers were the replacement of the excellent Tom Wright for Filipo Daugunu and the non-use of Noah Lolesio. The Wallabies’ play from the backfield deteriorated sharply in the final quarter – Tom Banks was one culprit – and it might have been nice to see Lolesio given the chance to use his footwork at the line. The rain was clearly a factor, but the Wallabies might review the last quarter and admit they just stopped playing.
3. The reason why the Pumas are so hard to break down.
The Argentines’ big men get a lot of praise, but don’t underestimate the toughness of some of their young backs. No 12 Santiago Chocobares, No 14 Bautista Delguy and No 15 Sanitiaga Carreras aren’t the biggest men, but they put everything into the tackle and also ‘cleaned up’ some really tricky situations for the Pumas on Saturday. They are all developing players and have the potential to be stars of the game, particularly the brilliant Delguy. The evasive right-winger won a unanimous points decision against Marika Koroibete, nailing him in one strong tackle and beating several defenders with ball in hand.
4. Centipede ruck is the game’s new blight
We noted a few weeks ago that the Wallabies had imported the ‘centipede ruck’ from the northern hemisphere, and both sides employed it in Newcastle. You can understand why teams like it – it gives the halfback time and protection to make the box kick – but it wouldn’t be surprising if Nine executives have a word with Rugby Australia about getting rid of it next year.
No broadcaster in their right minds would want to encourage a tactic that takes all the pace out of the game and incentivises teams to kick. Ironically, the last penalty the Wallabies conceded originated from a Jake Gordon bomb at the back of a long ruck, so it’s something of a double-edged sword if the No 9 doesn’t get the right distance on the kick. Its main problem, though, is that it’s deadset boring and we are in the entertainment industry.
5. Eddie Jones’ England are the world’s best team.
It’s hard to judge the Springboks after they opted out of 2020, but England are the pick of the bunch of the Test nations still playing. They devoured the Irish pack at Twickenham in their 18-7 win and found the cutting edge out wide when they needed it. Kiwi John Mitchell has helped turn them into a brutal defensive unit packed with tackling machines such as Maro Itoje and after beating Georgia 40-0 last week they looked like blanking Ireland as well until a late try from Jacob Stockdale.
Have any of the Tri Nations teams shown they have the right mix of physicality, tactical nous and attacking brilliance to beat England at the moment. That’s highly debatable. The French will give England a game if they meet in the Autumn Nations Cup but the big white brick wall looks hard to get through.
Cully’s team of the week
- Scott Sio (Australia)
- Julian Montoya (Argentina)
- Taniela Tupou (Australia)
- Matt Philip (Australia)
- Guido Petti (Argentina)
- Marcos Kremer (Argentina)
- Michael Hooper (Australia)
- Harry Wilson (Australia)
- Nic White (Australia)
- Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina)
- Tom Wright (Australia)
- Hunter Paisami (Australia)
- Matias Orlando (Argentina)
- Bautista Delguy (Argentina)
- Santiago Carreras (Argentina)
Paul Cully is a rugby columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.