Player Ratings: Australia
OPINION: The Wallabies managed to secure a victory against Portugal, but it was far from a convincing display from the Australian outfit.
While they came out on top, they struggled to impress against the Tier Two nation, who had just a 9 per cent probability of beating at Eddie Jones’ men at the start of the game.
The lack of attacking shape was evident once again, with the Wallabies backline playing like a scratch side on the first day of pre-season training.
Here’s how we rated the Wallabies players:
1. Angus Bell – 6/10
Bell had some solid moments in the scrum and grabbed a meat pie with 25 minutes on the clock. Still, Australia’s scrum was less than convincing, even if it was more on the tighthead side that they struggled.
2. Dave Porecki – 6.5
Porecki’s lineout throwing was generally accurate, and he contributed well in the loose with his work rate. Manhandled the opposition at times, which is what you’d expect given the vast gulf in resources between the two sides.
3. James Slipper – 4
The history-making prop had a face like a slapped arse when cameras picked him up before kick-off, but it didn’t translate into fireworks on the pitch. Struggled in the scrum at times and had a relatively quiet game in the loose with the exception of a couple of dominant contacts.
4. Nick Frost – 5.5
Frost was reasonably effective at lineout time and carried competently on a couple of occasions as well as making some strong tackles. Didn’t come back in the second due to a knee injury.
5. Richie Arnold – 6
The hulking Toulouse second row definitely had his moments – not least his 18th-minute try – and added heft when Australia eventually got their maul game up and running. Some good handling in the loose.
6. Tom Hooper – 6
A player still in his Test infancy, Hooper had a decent day at the office and tackled his guts out. You’d have liked to see him impose his 6’7, 122kg frame a little more effectively on what was a largely amateur pack in front of him.
7. Fraser McReight – 7.5
One of the few bright spots for the Wallabies, McReight was relentless at the breakdown and made several crucial turnovers. Deserved his 47th-minute 5-pointer.
8. Rob Valetini – 7
Valetini had a really solid game and made plenty of effective carries. Still, the Portuguese weren’t exactly cowed by his presence. Kept on coming.
9. Tate McDermott – 6
Often outplayed by livewire Samuel Marques, McDermott showed some quick thinking around the fringes and kept the tempo up, but he had to work hard for it.
10. Ben Donaldson – 6
A replacement after a late Carter Gordon withdrawal, Donaldson had a mixed day with his kicking out of hand, although he was a bit more accurate off the tee. The Waratahs’ standoff would follow a whopper touch finder with a duffed kick or shanked penalty. Vexingly inconsistent. A TMO review saved his blushes after getting rinsed by a Portugues attacker in the 36th minute, with the commentators conveniently blaming Nick Frost instead.
11. Marika Koroibete – 6
Koroibete has long been one of the Wallabies’ most consistent performers, but this was pretty average stuff. Showed glimpses in attack, flopping over for a late try in the 72nd minute. The Wallabies used him as a violent crashball option and he put in some shuddering hits (just ask Nuno Sousa Guedes). Struggled to contain the slight but fleet of foot Portuguese attackers.
12. Lalakai Foketi – 5
Was a veritable brick wall in defence and showed a couple of flashes of brilliance in attack in the first half, boasting pace that most wingers’ would give a left arm for. Was very lucky to avoid a card for a late headshot on the Portugal halfback.
13. Izaia Perese – 7
Opened his World Cup account with a big bounce on a Portuguese centre, Perese looked dangerous at times and made some good defensive reads. A source of rare front-foot-ball for the Aussies, who’ve struggled in this department all World Cup. Against that, Portugal found it too easy to get on the outside of the Wallabies cover.
14. Mark Nawaqanitawase – 5
As formidable winger as you’ll find at this World Cup, Nawaqanitawase had limited opportunities to showcase his skills, and he didn’t capitalize on the chances he had. Also looked a little vulnerable at times in defence against some extremely impressive footwork from Os Lobos’ backline.
15. Andrew Kellaway – 5
Moped up a dropped ball from Donaldson with his first touch. Was solid under the high ball and made some good territorial kicks, but he couldn’t break through the Portuguese defence quite as Aussie fans might have expected.
16. Matt Faessler – 5
Faessler came on to shore up the scrum, but his impact was minimal. Got a yellow card for a maul infringement.
17. Blake Schoupp – 5
Schoupp had limited time on the field and didn’t have much of an opportunity to make a significant impact, with Australia’s middling scrum not improving.
18. Pone Fa’amausili – 6
The giant tighthead Fa’amausili copped a huge hit to his knee but just about survived. The former No.8 didn’t provide much stability in the scrum but added huge physicality in defence.
19. Rob Leota – 7
Got a cameo in the first half as a temporary replacement and brought energy and aggression when he came back on after halftime for Nick Frost.
20. Josh Kemeny – NA
Kemeny had limited time to make an impact.
21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa – 5.5
Fines-Leleiwasa brought some energy to the game and added a spark to the Wallabies’ attack in the last 10 minutes.
22. Samu Kerevi – 3
Axed by Eddie Jones before being recalled as an injury replacement. In a throwback to 2019, Kerevi managed to get bunkered for leading with a forearm to the head.
23. Suliasi Vunivalu – 5
A bit of a World Cup flop, the former NRL ace had limited time to make an impact, and he struggled to get involved in the game.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass