Player ratings: Heartbreak hotel
OPINION: The Wallabies can take plenty of positives out of what was another heartbreaking loss on their year-end tour, after they were beaten by Ireland 13-10 in Dublin on Saturday.
Just a week on from their disappointing loss to Italy in Florence, Australia fell just short of what would have been a fascinating upset win over World No. 1 Ireland.
After a quiet first half which saw the hosts lead 3-nil at the break, the Test always appeared destined to come right down to the wire.
While the Wallabies managed to tie the game at 10-all in the 72nd minute after a try to replacement Jordan Petaia, the thrilling contest was ultimately decided by a clutch Ross Byrne penalty.
Finn Morton rates the Australia players!.
- 15. Andrew Kellaway – 5
It was an usually quiet Test match from the star fullback, who made his return to Wallaby gold on Sunday morning (AEDT). While Kellaway was reliable under the highball, he struggled to make his mark in other areas of the game. Kellaway ran the ball six times for 21 metres, and finished with a 75% tackle completion rate.
- 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase – 7
After making his debut with an impressive performance against Italy last weekend, Nawaqanitawase backed it up with another promising display against the world’s best team. The up-and-coming winger stood out with a handful of opportunities with the ball during the first half. Nawaqanitawase appeared to have an abundance of energy during the first 40 minutes – he simply seemed to be the middle of everything.
While he didn’t have the same impact on the Test during the second half, it was still a performance that Nawaqanitawase can be proud of. The winger ran for 51 metres from 12 runs, and beat four defenders as well.
- 13. Len Ikitau – 6
Ikitau is on the brink of being considered a world class defensive centre, if he isn’t already, and we witnessed another example of why in Dublin. The 24-year-old missed just one tackle from 11 attempts – having made the most tackles of any Australian back.
- 12. Hunter Paisami – N/A
Inside centre Hunter Paisami was subbed off a few minutes into the match with an injury, after he was caught in an awkward position in a tackle. While Paisami was determined to stay on the field, where he remained for another minute after the incident, it was clear that he couldn’t continue.
- 11. Tom Wright – 7
Wright has performed at a consistently high level throughout the 2022 international season, and his form continued into Saturday. Wright’s first run with the ball came about 20-minutes into the Test, and it was impressive burst from the right winger, which saw him run more than 20 metres and beat a defender. The 25-year-old finished with the equal-most carries of any Australian player, ran for a team-high 81 metres, and beat five defenders.
- 10. Bernard Foley – 6.5
It was a game of two halves from flyhalf Bernard Foley – who stood up in some key moments during the second half after a quiet opening 40. After missing his first penalty shot a goal in the first half with an uncharacteristically bad strike, he later got Australia’s first points on the board mid-way through the second half. But his best moment, and arguably the highlight of the Test overall, was a try-saving tackle on Australian-born Ireland winger Mack Hansen.
Overall, Foley steered the Wallabies ship with purpose and drive throughout the second half, and so nearly helped guide the team towards a famous upset win.
- 9. Nic White 7
It was almost the perfect start for the Wallabies and Nic White. The halfback thought he’d scored Australia’s first try of the Test a few minutes into the match, before the TMO intervened and ruled out the score.
Generally, his playmaking was brilliant throughout the first half. Australia controlled the ball during the opening 40 and White deserves some credit and plaudits for that control away from home. While he went off for a HIA, he returned early in the second half.
1. James Slipper (captain) – 7
It’s a cliché that we all know and love, but James Slipper’s performance this morning was a true captain’s knock. While Slipper did his core job quite well, he stood out for the impact that he was able to have on the Test around the park.
The Wallabies skipper finished the night with 11 runs – which was the second-most of any Australian forward – and an incredible 12 tackles.
2. David Porecki – 4
The Wallabies’ indiscipline has been a hot topic of discussion throughout their spring tour – especially after their loss to Italy last week – and it continued to hurt them in key moments against Ireland. Porecki was penalised twice inside the first eight-minutes of the Test, with the first infringement seeing a Nic White try ruled out by the TMO. Shortly after, Ireland flyhalf Jack Crowley scored the first points of the night after the Australian hooker was penalised for using his hands in the ruck.
As for the set-piece, Porecki wasn’t perfect – although he managed to hit most of his targets. The hooker’s first attempt was an overthrow, and Ireland got a hand to the ball off his second throw. The 30-year-old left the field in the 24th-minute for a HIA having made just two tackles and two runs.
3. Allan Alaalatoa – 7
While he didn’t have the captains armband on this week, it was another inspirational performance from the tighthead prop. Alaalatoa seemed to be in the thick of the action for most of the Test – whether he was running the ball, defending, or supporting his teammates.
Alaalatoa scrummed well and that’s important, but after running the ball eight times and making 11 tackles, the star prop deserves some praise. The Wallabies wouldn’t have got so close to an upset win if not for the tireless work rate from the tight five.
4. Nick Frost – 6
Frost was a menace at the lineout, as he put plenty of pressure on the Irish to retain possession off their own throw. The second rower also impressed around the park, having made eight tackles.
5. Cadeyrn Neville – 5
Neville wasn’t able to have the same impact on the Test as his second row partner, as he arguably went missing for periods of the match. While he made six tackles, he only ran the ball three times for zero metres, before he was replaced.
6. Jed Holloway – 6.5
Holloway might just be the hardest player to rate after that Test match – the blindside flanker did his job without really standing out. While he had eight runs for 27 metres, and made seven tackles without missing any, Holloway didn’t make any highlight plays.
7. Michael Hooper – 7.5
Michael Hooper is back. Yes, he’s been back in the Wallabies fold for a month now, but what a performance from the former Wallabies captain. Hooper was back to his best around the breakdown, winning at least three turnovers during the Test against the world’s best team – including two in the space of five minutes early on.
Hooper made the most tackles of any Australian player (16) too, without missing any, and also ran the ball three times.
8. Rob Valetini – 7
Valetini is one of the world’s best backrow forwards, and his first-half performance against Ireland only reinforced that point. The Wallabies enforcer led the team for both runs and tackles at the half-time break. Valetini was lucky to avoid a card early in the second half after a head-on-head collision, before being subbed off immediately after. He finished with 13 runs for 37 metres, and 10 tackles as well.
- Folau Fainga’a – 5.5 – Fainga’a was subbed on earlier than he probably expected, after starting hooker David Porecki left the field in the 24th-minute for a HIA. The 27-year-old wasn’t perfect at the set-piece either, and paid the price for some indiscipline – having been shown a yellow card before half-time. But Fainga’a was better in the second half.
- Tom Robertson – N/A
- Taniela Tupou – N/A – Went off with what appears to be a serious leg injury early in the second half. While the Wallabies’ scrum was solid with Tupou on the field, he didn’t get the chance to run the ball or make a tackle.
- Will Skelton – 6.5 – Skelton had a telling impact on the Test once he was subbed on. The powerful lock was able to wreak havoc on both sides of the ball.
- Pete Samu – N/A
- Jake Gordon – 5.5 – Gordon just wasn’t able to have the same impact on the Test as starting halfback Nic White. The scrum-half also gave the penalty away with a minute to play which brought an end to Australia’s driving maul close to the line.
- Noah Lolesio – N/A
- Jordan Petaia – Another player who came onto the field much earlier than he probably expected. After Hunter Paisami went down injured, Petaia ran out to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium a few minutes into the Test. While he was generally impressive when given the chance to shine, Petaia reaped the rewards for Australia’s attacking pressure by scoring the Wallabies’ sole try of the Test in the 70th-minute.
By Finn Morton, RugbyPass