Player ratings: Beating the odds
OPINION: Australia overcame the odds to beat England 30-28 in Perth in game one of the July series between the two nations.
The Wallabies lost Quade Cooper just before kick-off, forcing Noah Lolesio to start and James O’Connor to come onto the bench.
It went from bad to worse for the Wallabies early in the match, with fullback Tom Banks going off with a nasty arm fracture, Allan Ala’alatoa sent for an HIA and Darcy Swain was red-carded for a headbutt – all in the first half.
The Wallabies did well to gain the lead early in the second half before England clawed it back. A spirited fightback allowed the Wallabies to gain ascendancy for most of the second half with late tries to Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga’a and Pete Samu.
The gruelling match took its toll, and the Wallabies let in two late tries to England, but survived by the skin of their teeth to record a famous victory.
* Jack O’Rourke rates the Australian players!
1. Angus Bell – 6/10
Was challenged at scrum time against his opposite number but was able to win back some scrum penalties. Made a blockbusting run to put the Wallabies in a position to score.
2. David Porecki – 7
An impressive start to his Wallabies career. He was excellent at lineout time, working well with his lineout targets to keep England guessing. Was a ball hawk out in the tram tracks and used his physicality in his carries. Won a couple of crucial turnovers to get the Wallabies out of trouble.
3. Allan Ala’alatoa – 4
Battled at scrum time to set a platform for the Wallabies. Went off for an HIA after getting concussed in a tackle and didn’t return.
4. Darcy Swain – 4
Was aggressive in the clear-out and in maul defence. Was red-carded for a headbutt on Joe Hill after the England lock pulled his hair in a maul.
5. Cadeyrn Neville – 6.5
Making his Wallabies debut at 33 years old, he made his presence known early by holding up Ellis Genge in the tackle to win a scrum penalty. Was forced to take on sole lock duties with Swain sent from the field and was one of the hardest-working players on the ground.
6. Rob Leota – 6.5
Put in some big hits and carried over the advantage line on multiple occasions. Was targeted in the lineout and combined well with his back row in the rucks.
7. Michael Hooper – 7
As usual, the skipper lead from the front and showed off his incredible work rate. Won a crucial turnover right on the Wallabies defensive line to prevent an attacking raid from England.
8. Rob Valetini – 6.5
Was at his powerful best in the carry and looked dangerous from the back of the scrum. Got through a mountain of work, carrying five times for 15 metres and making 13 tackles.
9. Nic White – 6
With the late scratching of Cooper, the Wallabies scrumhalf took it upon himself to become chief playmaker. His tactical kicking was relied upon when the Wallabies’ attack stalled, and he took his opportunities when it was time to turn the pressure on.
10. Noah Lolesio – 7
A surprise start for Lolesio, he understandably took his time to ease into the test match. Got limited opportunities with the ball in hand, but he stood up in defence when runners were directed down his channel and made 11 tackles. Was perfect off the boot and kept the Wallabies in touch.
11. Marika Koroibete – 8
Was industrious in defence and chased kicks towards England’s back three. Made a try-saving tackle on Joe Marchant to prevent an early try attempt. Sniped around the ruck and combined with Anfrew Kellaway to get the Wallabies over the advantage line, running for 64 metres. Was every around the park and was one of the Wallabies’ best.
12. Samu Kerevi – 7
Was asked to carry hard and direct down the inside channel of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell and was devasting in attack, making 50 metres off 12 carries. What was most impressive from the centre was his ability to kick for touch and get into English territory.
13. Len Ikitau – 5.5
Was kept quiet in the first half with the Wallabies backline starved of possession by a stifling England defence. Made six tackles.
14. Andrew Kellaway – 7.5
Came off his wing to make runs and found gaps in the English defence. Shifted to fullback to cover for the injured Banks. Injected himself into a backline move and gave the final pass to put Petaia over for a try.
15. Tom Banks – N/A
Didn’t get many touches to begin the game. In the 21st minute, he went up in the air for a high ball and fell heavily. He suffered a broken arm and didn’t return to the game.
16. Folau Fainga’a – 5.5
Subbed on in the 67th minute and his first lineout throw was a good one. Scored a minute later by peeling off the back of the maul.
17. Scott Sio – 5.5
Replaced Bell in the second half and performed admirably at scrum time.
18. James Slipper – 6.5
Came on halfway through the first half as cover for Ala’alatoa. Packing down on the tighthead side, he took up the challenge against the English pack. Played over 60 minutes and still won an important scrum penalty against the feed in the 75th minute.
19. Matt Philip – 6
Came off the bench to add some extra help to the Wallabysamu-kerevi-wallabies-england pack. Was instrumental in organising lineout and attacking mauls close to the try line.
20. Pete Samu – 6
Came on in the 70th minute. Combined with Hooper to win a crucial turnover as England were storming into the Wallabies 22. Finished a fantastic multi-phase effort from the Wallabies to put the game beyond doubt.
21. Jake Gordon – 5.5
Came on late and kept the tempo going, helping the Wallabies march up the field to edge further ahead.
22. James O’Connor – N/A
Got on late. Missed a tackle for England’s final try of the game. Looked underdone after a late call-up to the side.
23. Jordan Petaia – 6.5
Entered the game to replace the injured Banks. Was on the end of a brilliant backline move to put the Wallabies ahead.