The Scoreboard Does not Lie: Wallabies look to crush the hopes and dreams of a Nation.
The Wallabies are through to the Semifinal. In a gripping quarterfinal where there was inches between Australia and South Africa, Australia showed that they really and truly have the ability to face those big moments and grasp them with both hands.
Sitting with close friends gathered around the TV as James O’Connor took the kick that sent the Wallabies into the lead, it became apparent that this was not a one time thing. Both O’Connor and Beale have now kicked us to success at the crucial time of a match multiple times in the last few international seasons.
Criticism has rung out that the Springboks played the better game, but possession does not equate to the better game. The monumental defensive effort of the Australian team won them the semifinal spot and as Toby Flood aptly put it “The scoreboard does not lie”.
The two magic numbers being thrown out are 76% territory and 56% possession. That means that 61 minutes of the game were played inside the Wallabies half. Nevertheless while the South Africans dominated the possession and territory the Australians held them tryless with 147 tackles.
Kurtley Beale has had an outstanding world cup so far and is now in doubt. Hopefully Beale will be found to be fit as Anthony Fainga’a has not had a strong tournament. One of the possibilities to cover for Beale’s absence would be to place Fainga’a in the starting side at Outside Centre.
This poses problems as Ioane, McCabe and Ashley Cooper have formed a strong defensive trio in the centre of the field. Berrick’s inclusion would be a popular decision for the public with a lot of criticism currently centered around Quade Cooper’s current form.
Should Beale find himself unfit to play, AAC could well find himself unchanged and McCabe shifted to Fullback, a position he coveted at the Brumbies until injuries forced his centre transition this year. This would see Barnes take up the inside centre mantle.
Barnes can defend well, he spent time matching up to much larger opponents during his stint at the Brisbane Bronco’s before he played at the Queensland Reds. The difference is the impact that Barnes’ defence has on the game that shall not be as evident as the influential defence we have seen from McCabe and AAC.
The way the Wallaby backs organise themselves for Sunday’s match could well decide the result of the match. In the forwards Pocock is showing that he is more than a match for McCaw. Now with confirmation last week that McCaw is not in full health, David Pocock will be the clear front leader to win the breakdown battle this weekend.
The rest of the Wallaby forwards must prove that they are capable of playing a near faultless game. The All-blacks forward pack are sure to play to their usual brilliance and without the Australians matching them up front the result is almost a foregone conclusion.
Should the Australian forwards meet the challenge that the New Zealanders offer and provide a platform for the Australian backs, the Wallabies could find themselves in that favourites position for next weeks final. In that case, if you are wearing Yellow and are in Auckland, leave, quickly, preferably before the end of the match.