Player Ratings: Australia
OPINION: The Wallabies got back into winning ways with a 35-15 win over Georgia in their opening pool stage clash in Paris.
In the Parisian heat, the pack took apart the Georgians at the set-piece while starting fullback Ben Donaldson produced a man-of-the-match performance with 25 points.
It wasn’t all the Wallabies’ way with a key break by Georgia the defining moment. With a chance to score and bring scores to 21-15, Taniela Tupou came up with an intercept and found Donaldson for a huge 14-point swing.
Here’s how the Wallabies rated in Paris:
1 Angus Bell – 5/10
Spilled the ball on one of his early carries but otherwise demonstrated his power game. Wallabies scrum handled the Georgians with ease and began to draw penalties from the set-piece. Had four carries. Off at 50.
2 Dave Porecki – 5
Tough player who produces underrated work. Had a couple of strong tackles in the front line and the set-piece functioned well.
3 Taniela Tupou – 6
A quieter first half for Tupou who deferred carrying duties to the likes of Bell, Skelton. Got involved with cleanout work and pick and goes. More involvement through the second half with strong carries. Had the key intercept and try assist for Donaldson just when Georgia were threatening.
4 Richie Arnold – 4
A rather quiet outing for Arnold, involved in a lot of the cleaning work. Off at 61.
5 Will Skelton – 7
Had a big charge down early and imposed himself on the Georgians in close at rucks and in the carry game. Got through 68 big minutes in hot conditions. Won four turnovers causing havoc for the Georgian pack. Off at 68.
6 Tom Hooper – 6
Industrious performance in tandem with McReight, got through eight tackles from 10 attempts.
7 Fraser McReight – 7
Got through a big work rate with 11 from 11 tackles. Competed at the breakdown but no reward for the fetcher.
8 Rob Valetini – 6
Less involvement in the game plan today. One of the world’s best carrying options, but didn’t feature as much. Still made seven from eight tackles.
9 Tate McDermott – N/A
Looked dangerous with his running opportunities and looked to create with three offloads. Took a bad knee making a tackle late in the first half and was taken off.
10 Carter Gordon – 5
A mixed bag for Gordon. He got charged down on his first exit kick and gave away a penalty for an aerial challenge which led to Georgia’s opening penalty. His kicking game had more poor moments, after a Skelton turnover and a big overlap begging he kicked long which went dead.
It feels like Gordon is being over-coached by the Wallabies at times as his kicking out-of-hand seems forced when better options are on. Produced a brilliant pass to set up Donaldson for his second try to show his playmaking ability, and finished strongly with the license to create.
11 Marika Koroibete – 7
A typically strong performance from Koroibete. Sparked the Wallabies on a kick return leading to their second try. Ran with vigour all evening. High workrate across the backfield.
12 Samu Kerevi – 5
A solid performance from Kerevi playing as a link man with his offload skills. Made a lot of gain line with his carries. Off at 40 mins.
13 Jordan Petaia – 7
Scored with his first touch after power rugby from the Wallabies pack. Set up a try for Nawaqanitawase on his next with a strong run and offload down the right side. Was the Wallabies most dangerous player and looked explosive with every touch but taken off at 57.
14 Mark Nawaqanitawase – 8
Nailed a 50-22 with his first touch which led to the opening try. Was involved with plenty of carries in the first half and demonstrated his aerial skills and kicking ability. Finished his own winger’s try in support of Petaia. Produced a brilliant try-saving tackle late in the game in the same corner as Mo’unga’s on Penaud 12 hours earlier.
15 Ben Donaldson – 8
Man-of-the-match in his first start for the Wallabies this year. Took over the kicking duties from Carter, missed his first conversion but nailed his next from out wide and a few more penalties. At the back was solid, cleaned up a Georgian grubber in the in-goal that saved the Wallabies from conceding.
Scored a breakaway try after an intercept by Taniela Tupou after a moment of Georgian madness and then hit a line into space to score his second. A massive 25-point haul.
16 Matt Faessler – N/A – on at 58. Got through four tackles.
17 Blake Schoupp – N/A – Came on and gave away a silly penalty for off-the-ball scuffle.
18 Zane Nonggorr – N/A – on at 68
19 Rob Leota – N/A – on at 61.
20 Langi Gleeson – N/A – on at 68 mins. Had a couple of strong carries in his brief cameo.
21 Nic White – 4 – On at 35 mins. The box kick play for Nawaqanitawase was overused, kicking away a lot of decent attacking possession. Tried to milk a penalty after copping at a ruck. Brought some energy and will start against Fiji with McDermott’s injury.
22 Lalakai Foketi – 4 – On at half-time. Carried strongly and did what he could in a makeshift midfield.
23 Suliasi Vunivalu – N/A – On at 57 mins. Limited opportunities for the Fijian.
By Ben Smith, @RugbyPass